A Shenandoah Valley resident that wishes to remain anonymous might be the owner of a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, after purchasing it for $7 (€ 5,5) from the local flea market.
The American woman that only identified herself as the “Renoir Girl” told the HuffingtonPost
she was first attracted to the frame of the painting, as well as what went with it. The vendor was giving away a Paul Bunyan doll and a plastic cow.
Imagine her surprise as the painting is now believed to be “Paysage Bords de Seine,” by famous painter Renoir. The discovery was made more than a year and a half after the painting was bought, the first time she took the contents of the bag out.
She had bought the painting so she could reuse the frame, but, after, removing the backing paper, saw a plaque with the name Renoir written on it.
Although skeptical, she decided to get the painting appraised before throwing it away. Anne Norton Craner, appraiser at the Potomack Company auction house in Virginia said she could immediately spot it was an original.
“She took it out of her plastic bag and it really looked like the real thing,” she said, pointing out the fact that she first judged the piece to be from the 1880's.
The frame is believed to be a period piece from the 1920's, and there is a label on the painting's back with the author's name and the title “Paysage Bords de Seine.” The appraiser described the inscription on the back as being "a typical French dealer's" label.
Herbert May was the last known owner of the painting, having acquired it at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery in Paris in 1926. Mr. May was a well-known Renoir collector, while his wife Sadie supported the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Although she isn't going to keep the painting, if its provenience is proven, “Renoir Girl” might be walking away with $75,000 (€ 58,000) to $100,000 (€ 78,000) after auctioning it.