Arbre de Niege, from Henri Matisse’s cutout series, will auction at Bonhams New York on May 17, as part of an Impressionist and Modern Art sale.
The work is expected to achieve around $800,000-1.2m.
In 1941, Matisse’s health started to deteriorate.
Matisse began working on his cutouts when he was confined to a wheelchair
He was diagnosed with abdominal cancer and confined to a wheelchair. His eyes were failing and painting was so difficult as to be no longer an option.
In response, he directed his studio assistants to paint sheets of paper with gouache.
Using scissors, he began creating simple, abstract collages focused solely on colour and form.
The results are considered among his greatest masterpieces.
He explained: “By creating these coloured paper cutouts it seems to me that I am happily anticipating things to come.
“I don't think that I have ever found such balance as I have in creating [them].
“But I know that it will only be much later that people will realise to what extent the work I am doing today is in step with the future.”
The present lot dates to 1947 and was produced at the villa Le Reve in Vence, France – where Matisse lived between 1943 and 1948.
William O'Reilly, Bonhams' vice president of impressionist and modern art, said: "Henri Matisse's cut paper compositions are in many ways the culmination of his lifetime of artistic experiment.
“Their strength and innovation are the result of his restless quest to describe pure form and pure colour.
“The reappearance of such a characteristic work from the group after almost 50 years is an exciting event".
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