Mark Rothko's No. 17 (1957) will star in Christie's post-war and contemporary art evening sale in New York on May 10.
The monumental work is valued at $30m-40m.
It dates to the beginning of his mature period, shortly before he began work on the acclaimed Seagram Murals, and was featured in his 1961-1963 European retrospective.
Brett Gorvy, international head of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's, comments: "No. 17 is a strikingly beautiful canvas that comes with an exhibition history that places it within the canon of Rothko's most important paintings of the late 1950's.
"We are particularly pleased to be presenting this work to the marketplace at a time when there is such tremendous demand for examples by Rothko of this remarkable quality.
"With its vibrant, enveloping surface, and its freshness to the auction market, we are confident that No.17 will appeal to a broad global audience."
Rothko (1903-1970) is one of the most famous painters of his generation. Born in Latvia, he emigrated to the US in 1913.
After a brief stint at Yale, he dropped out and moved to New York - where he enrolled at art school.
The value of his work has grown steadily in recent years and is popular with investors.
His auction record is $86.9m, set for Orange, red, yellow at Christie's in 2012.
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