Edward Weston's Nautilus Shell (1927) is valued at $300,000-500,000 ahead of a photography sale at Christie's New York on September 29.
Weston became fixated on photographing shells after talking with his close friend Henrietta Shore, an artist whose work was also focused on natural themes.
Much has been made of the erotic quality of the series, which appears at times to mirror his earlier nudes.
He wrote in his journal at the time: "I am not blind to the sensuous quality in shells, with which they combine the deepest spiritual significance: indeed it is this very combination of the physical and spiritual in a shell like the Chambered Nautilus, which makes it such an important abstract of life.
"No! I had no physical thoughts,—never have. I worked with clearer vision of sheer aesthetic form. I knew that I was recording from within, my feeling for life as I never had before…
"Others must get from them what they bring to them: evidently they do!"
In April, a photograph from the series sold for $905,000 at Sotheby's New York. His auction record stands at $1.6m - set for a nude in 2008.
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