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Last Updated:  Thursday, 3 April, 2003, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
$30m estimate for unseen Renoir
Dans les Roses
Dans les Roses is a portrait of Valentine Clapisson
A Renoir masterpiece that has been out of public view for 65 years could fetch up to $30m (19.2m) when it goes up for auction.

It is predicted that Dans les Roses, an oil painted in 1882, could become the second most expensive painting by the French artist.

Experts predict the painting could fetch between $20m-$30m (13m-19m) when it goes under the hammer at Sotheby's in New York on 6 May.

The portrait of Valentine Clapisson sitting in her Parisian garden was last seen when it was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1937.

Sotheby's says the painting is being sold by a private collector.

David Norman, co-chairman of Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art department, said Renoir has painted the work in an "extravagant outdoor setting".

Second attempt

The portrait was commissioned by Ms Clapisson's husband, a keen art collector.

But he did not approve of the finished work and Renoir "desperate for commission money" painted a second "very traditional, far less inspired" portrait, said Mr Norman.

This second picture is hanging at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Renoir, who lived from 1841 to 1919, was originally classified as an Impressionist painter, but later he started to apply a more formal technique.

The most valuable Renoir auctioned was Au Moulin de la Galette, sold for $78.1m (49.9m) in May 1990.

Baigneuse was sold for $20.9m (13.3m) at Sotheby's in 1997, including the auction house premium.

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