Edward Steichen's In Memoriam will lead the Exceptional Photographs sale at Christie's New York on February 17-18.
It's expected to make $400,000-600,000.
Steichen (1879-1973) most likely produced the work around 1900, while studying in Paris. It displays the influence of Pictorialism, an early photographic movement based on manipulating images in post-production to create a painterly effect.
Christie's comments: "Quite unlike contemporary conventional Pictorialist nudes - blurred, impressionistic, whispers of skin and form - the evocative In Memoriam achieves what Joanna Steichen called a 'polished marble quality.'
"Steichen printed the image upon returning to the United States and titled the work In Memoriam in honor of the model whose unrequited love of him resulted in the taking of her own life.
"This is the only version of this print in private hands, the other ones are in public collections, one with Mus?�e d'Orsay, the other with The Metropolitan Museum of Art."
Steichen went on to become one of the most influential photographers of all time, eventually taking up a position as director of photography at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
A photograph by Gustave Le Gray, showing ships leaving the harbour of Le Havre in the mid-1850s, will be another highlight. It has an estimate of $300,000-500,000.
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