One of Francis Bacon's major works is set to see top bids in Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art auction on November 12 in New York.
The work, entitled Seated Figure (Red Cardinal), is a fantastic representation of Bacon's papal series, which originates from his obsession with Diego Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X, a 1650 work by the Spanish golden age painter.
Estimated at $40m-60m, the piece is not likely to top the record for Bacon's work, which is held at $142.2m by his Three Studies of Lucian Freud - the most valuable piece of art ever sold at auction.
Painted in 1960, the present work was acquired by the consignor in 1996, but was not seen in public for 35 years prior to this. Works from the papal series rarely appear at auction.
Bacon created over 45 variants of the Velazquez composition in the 1950s and 1960s. With various interpretations circling, Bacon said that he had no agenda when painting the series, only seeking an excuse to use lavish colours, saying "you can't give ordinary clothes that purple colour without getting into a sort of false fauve manner."
Les Fauves (the Wild Beasts) were a group of French artists renowned for their use of vivid colours.
Another work from the papal series sold for $29.7m in November 2012, yet prices have soared in recent years and we can expect a strong result from the present work.
Also featuring in the auction, which promises some of the top sales seen all year, are Andy Warhol's Triple Elvis and Four Marlons, which are being offered together for $130m.
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