Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Search Challenge (6/10/15):A few questions about art history...

I was in Philadelphia recently... 

and had the chance to visit the truly wonderful Barnes Foundation collection while there.  For many years, it was kept in semi-seclusion in a distant Philadelphia suburb that took some planning to go visit. 

Just a few of Renoir's paintings... 
What's more, the collection was never published, so when I first went to see it out in its original Merion, PA location, I was completely stunned by the works I saw there.  Picassos, Renoirs, Rousseaus... hundreds of master works that I had never seen... anywhere.  It was as though an entire museum had some how floated down from outer space. 

So in last week's trip to the new Barnes Collection location in downtown Philadelphia, I was able to revisit some old friends that I hadn't seen for a while.  

And, as so often happens, as I was strolling through the assembled paintings, lots of questions sprung to mind.  Here are three that I propose as Challenges for this week.   

1.  Dr. Barnes, who assembled the collection, was good friends with the American painter William James Glackens.  One of Glackens more famous works is called the Pony Ballet. When I saw the picture I was struck by the term "pony ballet."  Gentle Search-Researcher--what IS a "pony ballet" in the context of Glackens' time?  

2. One of the most striking features of the Barnes collection is the huge number of paintings by Renoir that are hanging there.  Image the strip of paintings above... in every room of the museum. There were so many there that it was hard to believe that they were all done by just one artist.  To make things worse, I'd also recently visited Paris where I saw many more Renoirs.  How busy was this man?  The Challenge is simple:  How many completed paintings did Renoir create in his lifetime? 

3. If you look at the strip of Renoir paintings shown above, the one on the far right is of a young woman drinking hot chocolate. Hot chocolate?  Really?  THAT made me wonder--How many of all of Renoir's works feature a cup of hot chocolate?   

4. As you can see from this strip of paintings, the post-Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau was famous for his many paintings of jungle scenes.  Some painters of the time (I'm thinking of you, Paul Gauguin) led interesting lives.  What about Rousseau?  His paintings are so elaborate and primeval, usually featuring extensive tropical landscapes.  To get that level of detail, he must have led an interesting life.  So, how long did he live in a jungle landscape?

Remember that I'll be answering these next Monday--not on Friday, to give everyone a bit of extra time.

When you research the answers to these Challenges, be sure to tell us HOW you found your answer.  Some of these Challenges are a true challenge ("pony ballet" is a funny one)--be sure you tell us how you found the answer (don't JUST give us the answer, but also the steps you took).  

I hope you enjoy these--I certainly had fun putting them together. 

Search on... Impressionistically (and Post-Impressionistically)!  


  1. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers Now that we have more time to search and learn. Here is my first post. Very interesting topics.


    Question 2

    [renoir complete works]
    Paintings results

    [renoir facts and figures]
    10 Things You Didn't Know About The French Painter

    [renoir full catalogue]
    In these five volumes of our catalogue raisonné, we identified and reproduced 4019 paintings,148 pastels, 382 drawings and 105 watercolors for a total of 4654 works listed and reproduced.

    [how many complete paintings renoir]

    To search:" listed and reproduced" meaning. Any of you know what that means? I mean, how to find if the painting is finished or just in process.

    Question 3

    [renoir's paintings hot chocolate]

    Three amazing paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. All three of them portrait a woman drinking a cup of hot chocolate.

    [renoir's paintings intext:chocolate]

  2. I tackled the first question today. It took my 40 minutes. I don't know if I will have time to do the others.

    A search on Google for “pony ballet” took me to the following site.

    Exploring further seemed to imply that pony ballet referred to a chorus line of men in drag. However, these references seemed too late for the painting.

    So I searched JSTOR for “pony ballet” and found the following entries:


    The original Pony Ballet,
    whose capital dancing act has been
    the chief feature of several musical
    comedies since they first came to this
    country and who recently finished a
    most successful engagement with
    "His Honor the Mayor," will surely
    prove a most attractive feature.

    October 10, 1907 JOURNAL OF EDUCATION 391
    The Five
    Madcaps are English soubrettes, who
    do a specialty something on the order
    of that of the pony ballet, only
    they do much more acrobatic work.

    Then I searched Google for “pony ballet” vaudeville and found this rather lengthy article:
    From this article it seems to me that “pony” is just a term for a small dancer

    There is also a reference to the Dolly Sisters having danced in the Pony Ballet. included a picture.

    A search on Google News for “Pony Ballet” produced 1,790 results.

    1. These are nice finds. I wouldn't have thought about searching in the Journal of Education!

  3. Part One
    #1 Pony Ballet [Image link] William James Glacken, American, 1870–1938 Painted 1910/11

    Pony Ballet > Query[ define pony ballet] >
    Louisiana Biographical Dictionary “hard-worked pony ballet of nymphs”. To me that sounds likes a specific dance.

    Query [pony ballet dance] Music Score for Pony Ballet Dance 1903
    was indeed a musical by Schwartz. “ Pony Ballet Dance was featured in Klaw and Erlanger's great production Mr. Bluebeard and danced by their famous Pony Ballet, an ensemble of eight charming Vaudeville beauties. The dance itself is a happy pleasing composition.

    Query [Scholar >MyJSTOR (free) > Archives of American Art Journal, Vol. 44, No. 1/2 (2004) contains: The Sketchbook Studies of William Glackens. Interesting to see his sketches but I wanted to find his inspiration for the Pony Ballet painting. A general comment is that after seeing Manet’s work in 1895 it had an impact on his future paintings.

    1. Continued search Pony Ballet

      Interesting to see how this search going in two different paths amongst ourselves. I am pursuing the ladies pony ballet of 1903/4 and found a few more articles.

      Query [pony ballet vaudeville] Adding “vaudeville” opened up more sites than I have shown here. I search for the reason they were called Pony Ballets and how they got their beginning.

    2. Here's another version of the Pony Ballet origins.

    3. Rosemary -- This is a GREAT result. What did you do to find this result in ?

    4. I searched "pony ballet" at the website. This was just one of many (literally thousands) of hits. I didn't spend a lot of time here. Here's an image of one such performance.

    5. Rosemary didn't think of searching newspapers. Going to have to remember this!

  4. Part Two
    Query [complete works of Renoir] Paintings done by Renoir 1736.

    Query [theme renoir “hot chocolate”] we have three lovely paintings. It’s interesting how the drink had become popular in Europe.

    Quick answers - this is an answer however I may go back and do some more searching to confirm, later.

    1. I have found a few sites quoting anywhere from 1500 paintings to 6000 paintings. The results look plausible. The answer likely lies somewhere in between. However as already mentioned "catalogue raisonné by BERNHEIM-JEUNE" may be the most respected source. So we have to rely on known experts in the artworld who have the expertise & give credibility to their chosen sources.

    2. Here's an interesting book describing the use of "catalogues raisonné" The Expert Versus the Object: Judging Fakes and False Attributions in the ...By Ronald D. Spencer

      Chapter 5 The Catalogue Raisonne and Chapter 6 The Role of the Catalogue Raisonne in the Art Market. Francois Dault documented Renoir paintings until his death & then Wildenstein Institute in Paris assumed the project. The book written in 2004 mentions Renoir's works were still being worked on at that time.

      The book supports the position that while its not perfect the Catalogue Raisonne is held as the standard in the art world.
      Query Scholar [catalogue "the masters" "renoir" "complete works" "number of paintings"]

  5. Part Three

    #4 Query [“henri rousseau never left france”] Wikipedia “His best-known paintings depict jungle scenes, even though he never left France or saw a jungle”. At this point I again will check back, later.

    1. I added "never left france" after searching [henri rousseau biography jungle] I saw om SERP Second Results in snippet "even though he never left" and I knew he was from France.

  6. I found some pieces, but I will let others arrange their own compositions/arrangements… as Dr. Barnes did…
    the Barnes Foundation is a complicated stew worthy of past & ongoing IRE examinations and a feast for the eyeorbs.
    recent BF background
    Albert Coombs Barnes
    might be worth a look
    hope you were able to take this in also:
    The Order of Things by Mark Dion, Judy Pfaff, and Fred Wilson
    did find these odd chocolate coincidences…
    Al & coco
    (the real deal Barnes portrait)
    William James Glackens & coco 1
    William James Glackens & coco 2
    Judy, Al's wife & coco
    as for the "ponies"… of that era… gitty up buckaroo
    Poly Prep Country Day School
    no doubt a thing for a number of years…
    Henri - it wasn't always the tropics, but I don't think he ever left the fecund jungle of his imagination… or got closer in reality than the greenhouses… 5,000+ works (not all paintings, completed or otherwise - prints & drawing too)
    the wilds of Paris
    the nature of the beast
    Glackens/labels/ashcans & 8s
    thanks for the visuals

    1. What might be worth a look is definitely worth a look. May you spare 104 minutes of your life to watch The Art of the Steal (2009) The Relocation of the Barnes Art Collection to Philadelphia (sorry it's a link to a very low definition video).

    2. obrigado Senhor Viterbo… it is indeed worth a look.
      good to see the Glacken's painting, in the video (~8:45 in), with him… (hybrid reality)
      Glackens painting, before the cocoa became an aperitif
      would be nice if the Google Cultural Institute had
      the Barnes - then and/or now - collection available… perhaps it will happen
      it may have to be relocated to China? or Russia?

      does reference the Barnes(Merion) in the details
      a BF factoid
      local Philly on The Order of Things

      thanks too, Ramón, for the Tiller info… also checked George Lederer pony ballet
      it will be interesting to see how DMR weaves such seemingly disparate threads together.
      I'm hoping Dan doesn't break out his "Baby Sweet Steps" pony ballet collection, but one never knows who is collecting what these days. I have Gérard, the clogging mountain goat myself…
      how could a pony ballet be better?… perhaps I'm not availing myself of the extra search time in an appropriate manner…
      …move over cats - what was I searching for… m'kay … now the ads mind meld m'kay again
      a bf quickie
      the last time I was in Philly - Rocky & the velociraptors
      … as Rocky might say from the steps: "yo, arrivederci"

    3. after completing the sRs Q of the week… even if it is totally off base - (he does end up at the Philadelphia Museum of Art - the antithesis of the Barnes vision…)
      Gonna fly - uhmmm… search now

  7. Question 1. What were pony ballets at Renoir's time?

    My answer: Dance shows of men in drag. [This answer didn't convince me for two reasons (not the same time, painting doesn't look like men in drag), but I didn't go further. Rosemary's answer must be what we're looking for.)

    Search path:

    Scholar: [ "pony ballet" ] → book A gay aquatic spectacle, snippet "This particular form of muscular men dressing as women recalls the “pony ballet”, a set piece of U. S. military drag shows during World War II (Bérubé 1990: 70)."

    Books Advanced Search: [ inauthor:bérubé publication date:1990-1990 ] → Coming out under fire

    From inside the book: [ pony ballet ] → page 70: "This is the army became the prototypical World War II soldier show and established the three basic wartime styles of GI drag. These were the comic routines, chorus lines or 'pony ballets' of husky men in dresses playing for laughs; the skilled 'female'dancers or singers; and and the illusionists or caricaturists, who did artistic and convincing impersonations of female stars."

    Question 2. How many complete paintings did Renoir create?

    Answer: 4019 in total (can't be sure how many are incomplete, if any)

    Search path (I happen to have studied Arts so I know the term "catalogue raisonné", meaning "complete and ordered list of works"):

    Google: [ renoir catalogue raisonné ] → ("In these five volumes of our catalogue raisonné, we identified and reproduced 4019 paintings,148 pastels, 382 drawings and 105 watercolors for a total of 4654 works listed and reproduced.")

    Question 3. How many Renoir works depict a cup of hot chocolate?

    Answer: At least three, maybe four, maybe more: The Cup of Chocolate (La tasse de chocolat) (1878, private collection *), Cup of Chocolate (Femme prenant du chocolat) (c. 1912, Barnes BF14), Cup of Chocolate (La Tasse de chocolat) (c. 1914, Barnes BF40), maybe Tea Time (1911, Barnes BF478)
    * further info on the 1878 painting: now or previously in the private collection of Edsel Bryant Ford, Detroit, auctioned on ebay with a starting bid of US $49.00, zero bids!, auction ended Feb 19, 2015

    Search path:

    Images: [ renoir chocolate ] → all the first three paintings

    Further info on the 1878 painting.
    a) Images: [ renoir chocolat ] → photo of framed painting → ebay (passe-partout reads "In the collection of Mr. Edsel B. Ford, Detroit"
    b) [ edsel ford detroit ] → Wikipedia article (B. is for Bryant) in site search [ chocolate ] also → Tea Time (didn't understand why; the tableware look like a tea cup and a milk jug)

    Question 4. How long did Henri Rousseau live in the jungle?

    Answer: As long as Lobsang Rampa lived in Tibet. None. Zilch. Never.

    I knew this beforehand but I checked on Wikipedia.

    1. Good day, Luis. Do you know what is the difference between "listed and reproduced" artworks? Thanks!

    2. Sorry about the delay.

      My interpretation of the sentence you quoted is that all those works of art are both listed and reproduced in the catalogue, not that some are listed and others are reproduced.

  8. had to look up Rampa… nice turn of phrase LMV.
    evidently from Calgary, Tibet via a higher plane ;)
    also, I should have distinguished better between Pierre-Auguste and Henri Julien Félix in my
    5000+ artworks answer… that number should have been attached to P-A and not HJFR, The Past and the Present

  9. Question 2
    I searched ArtFullText and found nothing although I did find and article that said as the demand for Renoir paintings increases and private collections are auctioned, the number of forgeries will begin to rise.

    Searched for Renoir – Wikipedia. Found a list of works – incomplete.

    So I searched Renoir complete works on Google and found this link which showed 1736 paintings.

    I tried to find other places to verify this number, including searching through books on Renoir in the library, but could not confirm the above number. All other lists showed smaller numbers.

    I spent about an hour on this search.

  10. — for your consideration;
    how is "completed" - or, for that matter, "painting" - defined/determined? eye of the beholder/critic/historian/context/convention/$…?
    is this a painting? Flexible
    or this - betweens
    or these
    Anselm Kiefer
    process -
    in the act
    "During Life:
    Renoir shocked some people when he exhibited his paintings at Société Anonyme, a show in Paris in 1874. Critics were dismayed to see simple oil sketches presented as completed works. Two years later his painting Nude in the Sun (also known as Woman's Torso in the Sunlight) was badly received by critic Albert Wolff who claimed he wanted to: "Try to explain to M Renoir that a woman's torso is not a mass of decomposing flesh. "

    Due to his preference for the human figure rather than landscapes, Renoir stood out from the others and was commissioned to create several portraits by members of the upper-middle-class society. He was considered a leader among the Impressionists, renowned for his luminous colors and mixed brush strokes.

    In 1880, Renoir created the painting Luncheon of the Boating Party which was believed to be a reaction to his friend Emile Zola's critique that impressionists sell "sketches that are hardly dry"."

    from: Artble
    … and there may be a few still knocking about…
    ye ol' flea market/yard sale yarn
    … off to my llama polka lesson - not to be confused with the pony ballet - or goat clogging.

    1. "Completion" is an odd concept. It seems obvious, but it's not once you start to dig into it. Nice examples here of the tension between what the artist considers "completed" and the viewer (or more probably, the critic).

  11. 1. Anne and I started out with define "pony dancer' - nothing; did a search for -"pony dancer" glackens no relevant results; next we used our universal library search tool called DISCOVERY and searched for "pony dancer" and came up with nothing - Judith interesting note we have JSTOR and didn't get a hit; then we went to our library collection (which also should have come up in the DISCOVERY search, but we checked anyway) for books on the late 1800's - early 1900's and found nothing. Thank goodness for the Oxford English Dictionary! We found the entry under pony entry 4b - a small chorus girl or dancer. The example given was from 1908. The painting was done in 1910 so the right time period. This took us about 15 mins.

    2. For this question we searched google for Renoir complete works - we found the site which listed 1736 paintings. We thought the site didn't look that authoritative so we continued searching. We found another site with a numbered list of 878 paintings We checked some of our books on Renoir but none of them have a list or a total number. This is proving much, much harder than it seems. We are going to keep at this one!

    1. Nice. I should have checked the OED as well; it would be good for dated definitions like this.

    2. Didn't think of it immediately but it does come in handy at times! I'll check tomorrow but I think the pony ballet referring to men in drag was actually in use a little later than the painting.

  12. We are back. Saw Luis's answer and realized without that background knowledge we didn't know how to search and get an authoritative answer for question 2.
    3. For the chocolate question we did a search for renoir cup of chocolate and while entering the search terms Google suggested those terms with the years 1878, 1912. Clicked on 1912 and it brought up a series of his paintings the first 3 of which included a cup of chocolate.
    4. according to the Wikipedia article on Rousseau he never left France, and based his drawings on pictures from books and visits to the botanical garden. According to the article his admirers said he spent time in Mexico while in the army but this wasn't true. We confirmed this information by going to Grove Art Online one of our subscription databases.

    1. Hi Debbie -- Is Grove Art Online available through your library? (I assume it is.) Any idea how widely available it is?

    2. Yes. We just started subscribing. Relatively inexpensive (for a library - can't imagine any individual buying it). I think many universities subscribe. Checking my public library - they don't have it. I would think that most public library especially smaller ones wouldn't subscribe. Larger public library or one in an area with a lot of interest in the arts may subscribe.

  13. First thing I did with this Challenge was to get my pal Ruth involved. She is a newly retired university art professor.


    Pony Ballet: [pony ballet] finds

    Top of the page is a pix of the troupe

    ...'The Radium ballet, which is one of the most brilliant novelties of Piff, Paff, Pouf, is executed by the eight little English girls who compose the Pony ballet. The stage and auditorium of the theater are made perfectly dark, and then appear the eight little figures in a skipping rope dance. Their white costumes are coated with luminous preparation, a certain percentage of which is said to be the precious radium, that makes them glow in the dark like gigantic fire-flies. It is a very pretty stage effect.

    (The Fort Wayne Evening Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Saturday, 10 June 1905, p. 16f/g)

    Item 19 is the music for Radium Dance with Pony Ballet.

    [english pony ballet] finds this book

    American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle
    By Gerald Martin Bordman, Richard Norton page 221

    ...the show's "pony ballet' with music...heightened the vogue for diminutive chorines.

    American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
    By Karen Abbott page ?

    ...The company consisted of an English pony ballet (in which 16 girls danced on the backs of live ponies). Regular chorus girls had to weigh less than 170 pounds and not have varicose veins.

    Original English Pony Ballet was a line of tiny precision high-kicking chorus girls

    Newspaper searches produced the first results for pony ballet in 1899.

    I see various references from 1920 on where pony ballet refers to cross-dressing males.

    [renoirs biography]

    Suggests 1,736

    (And I suggest many more after his death.)

    French version of Wikipedia suggests over 4,000

    He was prodigiously copied because his paintings were bright and cheerful and his style readily reproduced. Even when his own paintings were disappearing from his studio he didn't make much effort to find them bcause I guess he could paint more and faster than trying to find the missing items.


    [renoir chocolat] I found 3 painted in 1878, 1912, 1914. This was not clever searching just brute force. There must be more.



    His life was so boring that..."He was also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer), a humorous description of his occupation as a toll collector.[1]"

    ..."His best-known paintings depict jungle scenes, even though he never left France or saw a jungle. Stories spread by admirers that his army service included the French expeditionary force to Mexico are unfounded. His inspiration came from illustrated books and the botanical gardens in Paris, as well as tableaux of taxidermy wild animals. He had also met soldiers during his term of service who had survived the French expedition to Mexico, and he listened to their stories of the subtropical country they had encountered. To the critic Arsène Alexandre, he described his frequent visits to the Jardin des Plantes: "When I go into the glass houses and I see the strange plants of exotic lands, it seems to me that I enter into a dream."

    He never lived in a jungle setting.

    I also discovered that he is not the same person as Jean Jacques Rousseau, who did have an interesting life.

    I like this type of Challenge -- jon

  14. Agree with Jon loved these challenges.

    1. For both Jon and Debbie (and anyone else who enjoyed this Challenge) - can you say WHAT it was about this Challenge that you especially enjoyed? Was it the degree of difficult? The element of surprise in what you found? Or... what?

      Any and all insights will be used in the manufacture of future Challenges!


    2. Hello Dr. Russell. I always enjoy the Challenges. What I like about this in specific?

      1. I can learn and discover about topics, words, etc., that normally don't follow.
      2. Interesting surprises like Rousseau live or noticing Chocolate.
      3. Challenge has specific answer and also open ones.
      4. Relates with other parts of history.

    3. Why did I enjoy this particular Challenge ? I had to think about this. I think its because the results add useful/fun layers of understanding to a topic that might be applied to other artists although I don't believe we'll see another 'pony ballet' any time soon.

      I'm excited by creative people. I don't attend the MET operas though. But I do all the Shakespeare plays from The Globe. And the films about famous artists.

      And it was stuff that I was sure that I'd have a good chance of sussing out. Especially with the relaxed response time. And along the way I learned more things that I never knew I wanted to know.

      And I am always fascinated with the utterly curious little things you discover in your travels.


    4. "can you say WHAT it was about this Challenge that you especially enjoyed?…" your images lead to unexpected places on a somewhat regular basis — like when the search solution isn't the product of too straight a line of inquiry… or there is a bit of misdirection; ala the Rousseau, for example.

      …just ran across this, wouldn't have paid much attention to it if not for this weeks sRs…
      William James Glackens, Storm Over the Beach, c. 1905
      p.s. - JtU - I'm starting to come to the point that it gives me joy & hope that there is info that remains elusive to SEs & web spiders
      all things do not need - or should - be instantly findable/searchable… that said, Ok Giggle 보 (kind of a mic symbol), where is the nearest Pete's?
      long live the spirit of encrypted Renoir… ummm, the Bluffdale data center is te#&-_6 m@ Îow…
      related - hover cursor over image
      fwiw, an amusing distraction…"upcoming American drama psychological thriller television series"
      Mr Robot
      …with a smile

    5. I think it was the element of surprise. I thought the Renoir question on the number of paintings was going to be a straightforward answer. It was also fun to find out about a term I had never heard of before. Thought the challenges had just the right amount of difficulty. Also that we had to look in a variety of sources and you had to think about where you might find the anwer.

    6. Why I enjoyed this challenge:

      1. Having four different questions, it allowed me to pass to the second one even after I found an answer for the first one that I suspected might be wrong. In the end, after answering all of them, I decided that it would take me a little longer to find out the real answer, so I just read the answers written so far. So,
      a) I liked to be able to pause a search and try some others. I am a little bit perfectionist, so I rarely do that. Having an easy answer just after that allowed me to let it go;
      b) I liked not not having been the first one to answer. This way, I could read a good answer to the first question. In fact, the accomplishment of colleagues and students actually thrills me, in a sort of "compersion" feeling.

      2. Bein able to use my previous knowledge and actually do very little research on two of the answers. This balances the failure sensation I might have had for not answering the first question correctly or even for not being able to answer the second one with accuracy (I still don't know, without reading the catalogue raisonné, out many of the 4019 listed paintings are considered incomplete).

      3. Using different languages. I always love when the research has to deal with other languages.

      4. Finding a very curious piece of information. In this case, the Renoir painting that was auctioned on eBay for only US$ 49.00 and still didn't get any offers. I really don't understand how this could have happened, and I also wonder why nobody commented.

  15. bringing a little sunshine to a past sRs inquiry topic - coming from the current future… "Hello Earth! Can you hear me?"
    "The probe communicated with Earth for 85 seconds… Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 Watts available."
    Philae calling
    DLR - it's a twitterverse after all
    • oddly, tying this to the current challenge, Pierre-Auguste seems to have anticipated Philae…picnic? painting titled:
    "Country [Comet] Footpath in the Summer", date:unk… appears it has plenty of sunshine in the painting from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
    (it must be true, it is on the interstellar interwobbie galaxy wide web

    1. Hurrah for Philae. Remember, you read about it first in SearchResearch!

  16. for context: Philae search on the sRs site using Search the SearchResearch Blog

    1. Thanks Remmij for your links. The information about Philae and sun light is good to know and learn more. The painting is great. And the sRs search show interesting results. I wander why the url changed to and not the regular .com

      BTW any of you use "/?m=1"? in the blog? I use it many times. Specially on mobile. It is easier to load.

      Jon, very interesting what you share with us: " Apparently Renoir encrypted his name", I'll try to learn more about that. Can you imagine people who bought those paintings and they don't have a clue of the real value?

  17. How many paintings did Renoir leave behind ? I have since my first post done a lot more searching for this. My most productive route is [fake renoir] which finds sites like this

    Line 1: Renoir painted, according to experts, about 6000 oil paintings. Wildenstein lists only 1/3 of his output. All the impressionists knew each other and painted similar scenes and painted in each other's style. Renoir is known to have painted like Monet and then signed Monet's name.

    Apparently Renoir encrypted his name into many paintings to which he assigned other names. There is evidence on this site but I have idea if its real evidence or wishful thinking.

    So, after all the Searching I have done via WWW and Scholar and my uni's scholarly journals I am convinced that no one knows for sure. All we do know is that he was mighty prolific.