Largest Ben Nicholson painting to be offered at $2.2m by Sotheby's

Sotheby's has announced that the highlight of its Modern and Post-War British Art Evening Sale will be Ben Nicholson's Oct 61 (Mycenae-axe-blue), which is the largest of his paintings ever to come to auction.

Ben Nicholson Oct 61 Mycenae-axe-blue
Nicholson stands among Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore at the forefront of the British avant-garde

The sale will take place on July 11, with the critically acclaimed work valued at $1m-1.5m ($1.5m-2.2m).

The abstract work provided the centrepiece of the Tate's celebrated 1964 exhibition Painting & Sculpture of a Decade, 54-64. Measuring 4½ metres across, it is on the scale of Nicholson's famous Festival of Britain Mural 1951, a monumental work that is currently undergoing repairs.

The piece hails from the years that Nicholson spent in Switzerland, which are renowned as the "Indian summer" of his career.

It is being sold for the first time since it was purchased in New York in 1966 by industrialist Joseph Irwin Miller, who donated it to the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.

Profits from the sale will benefit the organisation's programmes relating to religion and the arts.

Nicholson stands among artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore at the forefront of the avant-garde in Britain. Receiving huge acclaim around the world, he developed friendships with Europe's top modernists, including Picasso, Braque, Calder and Moholy-Nagy.

Such was his reputation, Mondrian even moved to Hampstead, London on his request.

The current auction record for Nicholson's work was set in 2012, when Violon et guitar (1933) sold for $4.2m at Christie's.

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