Renoir purchased at flea market for $50
A Virginia flea market buyer has purchased what could turn out to be a painting by the French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir for less than $50 (€39).
The Potomack Company is due to auction off the small pastel-coloured painting it believes is Renoir's Paysage Bords de Seine on September 29th, and has valued it between $75,000 (€58,000) and $100,000 (€78,000).
Anne Norton Craner, Potomack’s fine arts specialist and a former research associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said she researched the 5.5-by-9-inch river scene and is convinced it is a Renoir.
"You just see it and you know it’s right," said Ms Craner.
The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, brought the painting to Potomack in a large white plastic bag.
"She liked the look of the frame, and started tearing off the paper on the back, and her mum told her to stop," because it might be worth something, Ms Craner recounted.
Ms Craner, who said the image is included in the catalogue raisonné, the definitive compilation of an artist’s work, looked up the catalogued work and learned it was purchased from the Bernheim-Jeune gallery in France in 1925 and later sold to Herbert May, the husband of Sadie A May, a well-known collector in Maryland who donated many works to the Baltimore Museum of Art.
The painting has what seems to be the gallery’s sticker on the back with a stock number, Ms Craner said.
She does not know how this Renoir might have found its way from the Mays’s collection to a box of junk at a Shenandoah Valley flea market.
Of course, discovering forsaken masterpieces at out-of-the way flea markets is a time-tested ruse among art forgers, but Ms Craner said she is confident that Paysage Bords de Seine is the real thing.
As the owner told officials at Potomack after bringing them the painting: "it does pay to listen to your mother."
New York Times