No.1 (Royal Red and Blue), 1954
Estimate: $35/50 million
September 23, 2012, source: Sotheby's
The majestic canvas was one of eight works hand-selected by Rothko for his landmark solo show of the same year at the Art Institute of Chicago. Measuring 113¾ x 67½ in (288.9 x 171.5 cm), "No.1 (Royal Red and Blue)" has remained in the same collection for 30 years and is estimated to sell for $35/50 million. The canvas will be on view in New York beginning 1 November.
"No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue)" stands as the one of the great achievements of Rothko’s abstract painting. The stunning aura of its brilliant red and orange surface is superbly countered by the intensely vivid blue stack towards its base, giving the viewer a sense that the canvas is illuminated from within. The painting is central to Rothko’s mature mode of artistic expression in which he pioneered unprecedented territory in a spectacular outpouring of innovation.
“To have a ravishingly beautiful and monumental work from the legendary 1954 show appear at auction is a major market event,” commented Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art. “Beginning with the breakout price achieved for 'White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)' from the collection of David Rockefeller at Sotheby’s in 2007, demand for key works by the artist has been insatiable."