Christie's has announced its Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on November 1.
The auction will be led by Edgar Degas' Petite danseuse de quatorze ans, the most celebrated sculpture to have emerged from the Impressionist era.
With its unflinching realism, bold and unconventional combination of materials, and staunch rejection of idealised grace, Petite danseuse represents a defining moment in Degas's career.
He made a daring and controversial break with academic tradition to embrace a new modernist aesthetic unlike any seen before.
This iconic work of art is estimated at US$25 - 35 million, and is poised to become one of the top-selling works of Impressionist art to reach the auction block this season.
"Petite danseuse ranks among the most-loved of all Impressionist works, and continues to cast a spell over museum visitors the world over. It is a signal honour for Christie's to have been entrusted with the sale of this work," said Conor Jordan, Head of Impressionist and Modern Art for Christie's Americas.
"The Petite danseuse is the largest, most technically ambitious, and most complex of Degas' sculptures, and the only one that he ever exhibited during his lifetime.
"It represents the pinnacle of his achievement in this medium, to which he devoted a great deal of time and energy over the course of his career."
In the last year, prices for exceptional examples of modern sculpture have soared, driven by demand from collectors worldwide for masterpiece-quality works by the greatest masters of the Impressionist and Modern periods.
In November 2010, Christie's set a new artist record of $48.8 million for Henri Matisse's Back IV, a monumental bronze from the artist's most celebrated series. And in June 2010, Christie's set a new auction record for the most expensive work of art sold in France with the sale of Amedeo Modigliani's carved limestone Tête for $52.7 million.
In May 2010 in New York, Christie's fetched $53.3 million for Alberto Giacometti's bronze, Grand Tête Mince from the Collection of Mrs. Sidney F. Brody.