It is the kind of flea market find we all dream of - a painting from Pierre-August Renoir that could be worth as much as $100,000.
The piece, the previously lost Paysage Bords de Seine, was bought by an unnamed woman at a Virginia market for just a few dollars, as part of a box of miscellaneous goods. Originally costing less than $60 for the entire lot, the framed work will now sell with a $75,000-100,000 estimate on September 29.
"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 the Virginia auction house's fine art specialist, Anne Norton Craner.
The finder is said to have wanted the box for a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan doll that was contained inside and had even begun to dismantle the canvas' gilt frame.
She commented: "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 work was last purchased at from the Gallerie Bernherm-Jeune in Paris in 1926 and the auction house remains in the dark as to how it ended up in Virginia. The current record price for Renoir's work stands with his Bal Au Moulin de la Galette, which was sold at Sotheby's in 1990 for $78m.
Paul Fraser Collectibles a brilliant handwritten letter from Renoir for sale. The letter is to Madame Charpentier, the subject of his 1878 piece Madame Charpentier with her Children. A letter such as this has not been seen at auction for at least 35 years.