Flea market bargain was Renoir work

A woman who paid $7 (£4.35) for a box of trinkets at a West Virginia flea market two years ago acquired an original painting by the French impressionist Renoir without knowing it.

The woman considered discarding the painting to salvage its frame, but instead made an appointment to have it valued by the Potomack auction house in Alexandria, said its fine arts director Anne Craner.

When she pulled the painting out of a rubbish bag she carried it in, Ms Craner was nearly certain the painting was a Renoir with its distinct colours, light and brushwork. A plaque on the front labelled it Renoir.

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French handwriting on the back of the canvass included a label and number and Ms Craner turned to the catalogue by French gallery Bernheim-Jeune that has published all of Renoir’s work.

“Low and behold, it was in volume one,” she said.

Painting No 24349 turned out to be Renoir’s Paysage Bords de Seine. It is set for auction on September 29 and could fetch $75,000 (£47,000) or more, Ms Craner said.