Thursday, 6 September 2012

"Lost" Renoir Painting At Potomack Company's Sept. 29 Auction

The Potomack Company 

An auction house can never anticipate what might come through the door. Elizabeth Haynie Wainstein, owner of The Potomack Company, announces that a Virginia woman's flea market find - a lost Renoir painting the auction house recently revealed - will be for sale at the gallery's September 29th catalogue auction.

The Potomack Company's fine arts specialist, Anne Norton Craner, determined that the painting which had been purchased along with a box of random items in the Shenandoah Valley was actually a work by Pierre-Auguste Renoir worth many times more than its purchase price.

"When I removed the painting from the plastic bag it was stored in, I saw that its radiant plein air quality – the rapid brush strokes, the vibrant purple and pink colors, the Seine as subject matter and the luminous light reminded me immediately of Renoir's 1879 Landscape of Wargemont," said Craner. Her further investigation confirmed the painting as Paysage Bords de Seine, one of Renoir's many river scenes painted along the Seine River near the towns of Bougival and Chatou.

Wainstein said the painting's journey to The Potomack Company is the rare story of a lost treasure found.

"A Shenandoah Valley woman was out enjoying a weekend day at a flea market and purchased a box of miscellaneous items," said Wainstein. "What had actually caught her eye in the box wasn't the valuable Renoir but a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan doll. She stored the rest of the box's contents first in a white plastic bag in a shed, later in her car's trunk and eventually in her kitchen."

The painting's owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Potomack Company, "I was more interested in the frame than the landscape and started taking it apart. I tore the brown paper off the back and threw it in the trash. When I asked my mom for help, she told me to get it looked at first before I threw it away. Low and behold, she was right! It does pay to listen to your mother."

"The woman also noticed a 'Renoir' plaque on the painting, so she scheduled an appointment with The Potomack Company to find out if the plaque had any significance," said Wainstein. "Anne Craner concluded the painting had been last purchased in 1926 from the Gallerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris, one of the preeminent dealers of Renoir's work, by international lawyer Herbert L. May, husband of Baltimore arts patron and collector Saidie Adler May. Mrs. May was an important benefactor of the Baltimore Museum of Art, donating over 300 works of art as well as funds to establish the museum's Renaissance and Modern Art wings.

The Renoir painting's trail was lost until it resurfaced in August at The Potomack Company. The gallery estimates Paysage Bords de Seine will sell for $75,000-100,000.

Further information about The Potomack Company's September 29-30 catalogue auction is at or 703-684-4550. The Potomack Company is a fine arts and antiques auction gallery located at 526 North Fayette Street in Alexandria, Virginia.PR Newswire (

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