A superb example from Francis Bacon's provocative Screaming Pope series is expected to continue the excellent results seen for his work in 2012, when it stars at Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Auction on November 13.
Untitled (Pope) from 1954 will sell in New York with an estimate of $18m-25m, and will undoubtedly be looking to top the $31m achieved for his Study for a Self-Portrait at Christie's in June.
Oliver Barker at Sotheby's, who has been advising on the work for six years, explained: "Bacon is the artist everybody is seeking at the moment, he is in many ways top of the pile. To find something of this date, of this subject, of this importance is really a very notable moment."
The work draws inspiration from Diego Velazquez's 1650 Masterpiece Portrait of Pope Innocent X. One of many Bacon created using the Pope as the central image, it is said to be an expression of post-war horror. It has hung in a private collection for almost 40 years and was last seen at auction in 1975, when it sold at Sotheby's for £71,500 ($116,000).
"It has been a slight personal odyssey and it is incredibly exciting to be able to share this with a wider audience because it is not a painting that's widely known. It has been tucked away in an extremely discreet private place and it is so fantastic to be able to announce it to the world," Barker added.
Perhaps the most accomplished work of the renowned series is Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X, which is currently on display in Los Angeles.
Mark Rothko's No.1 (Royal Red and Blue) will also feature at the auction, with a $50m high estimate.
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