Mark Rothko's No. 21 estimated at $50m in Schlumberger sale

The contemporary art collection of Pierre and Sao Schlumberger is set to wow bidders at Sotheby's New York, led by Mark Rothko's pivotal No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange).

The work 'stands at the pinnacle of Rothko's mature work'

The collection will form part of the evening and day sales of impressionist and modern art and contemporary art on November 4-5 and 11-12, with the undoubted highlight being the Rothko work at $50m+.

"This dramatic canvas ranks among Mark Rothko's most compelling paintings - from the zenith of his career - to remain in private hands. Its composition brings fresh changes on the artist's classic 'signature' style. Together, these factors make No. 21 a unique example of Rothko's art," writes Dr David Anfam, editor of the catalogue raisonne Mark Rothko: The Works on Canvas.

The work dates to 1951 and has been part of the Schlumberger Collection for over 40 years. Pierre Schlumberger, a businessman from one of France's most distinguished families, began the collection in the 1950s, and was later joined in the endeavour by his wife, Sao, in 1961.

Ad Reinhardt was an influential figure in the American abstract art scene, but his works rarely appear at auction

Following the Rothko is an incredibly rare piece from Ad Reinhardt, which Sotheby's describes as "a historically monumental example of [his] groundbreaking oeuvre". Estimated at $5m-7m, the work dates to 1953, the year in which Reinhardt finally achieved critical acclaim.

As Sotheby's Europe deputy chairman Oliver Barker states: "Major works by Reinhardt are extremely scarce on the market and the appearance of the present canvas at auction this November is a major event."

Also featuring is the "vast" Red and Blue by Adolph Gottlieb, estimated at $2m-3m. An excellent example of Gottlieb's most famous series of Burst paintings, Sotheby's notes that the work is at home alongside Jackson Pollock's drips, Barnett Newman's zips and Mark Rothko's floating bands of colour.

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