NEW YORK (Reuters) - Vintage photographs by some of the world's most famous photographers such as Edward Weston, Alfred Stieglitz and Man Ray are expected to fetch more than $5.2 million at auction and set record prices for their works, Christie's said.
The 70 prints, which were made mainly in the 1920s, were amassed by a private collector and focused on photographers influenced by the artistic revolution in Western Europe at the turn of the century.
"If you tried to put this collection together today, it would be impossible. The work is of such a high quality," said Laura Paterson, Christie's vice president and specialist in the photography department.
"I think there will be a number of world records here. The works are just too important for serious collectors to overlook," she added in an interview.
One of the highlights of the April 4 sale in New York, with a pre-sale estimate of $600,000, will be "Nude," a 1925 photo by Weston of his lover Miriam Lerner, a Los Angeles socialite.
The rare photograph is one of only two prints from a negative that was destroyed in the 1930s. The other print, which Paterson said is cropped differently, is in private hands.
"(It) is one of Edward Weston's finest and most important nudes, yet very little-known," according to Christie's.
The collector, who is based in South America, and his art advisor, Jill Rose, put together a 'wish list' of works by elite photographers who had made an enormous contribution to modern art and assembled the collection from 1979 to the late 1990s.
"They felt they should choose photographers who had taken on board the messages of this sort of revolutionary art, and had run with it and were informing fellow artists, and had an effect on future generations. And within that they thought of ideal works by each of these artists," Paterson explained.
"It is a very cerebral, very carefully curated collection."
Several works from the collection, called "the deLighted eye," are by Surrealist artist Man Ray. "Untitled Rayograph," a 1923 abstract photo is expected to sell for up to $350,000 and "Francis Picabia, Grande Vitesse," which shows the artist driving a fast car and was published in 1925, has a pre-sale estimate of up to $150,000.
Stieglitz's "From the Back Window -291- N.Y. Summer 1914," one of a series of photos from his 291 gallery showing a view of New York, is expected to be another top seller with a pre-sale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.
Another cityscape from the collection is Edward Steichen's "Bricks," which was taken from his apartment on West 86th Street in New York and could fetch up to $300,000.
A 1917 Vortograph, which is composed of repetitions of forms in a triangular arrangement, by Alvin Langdon Coburn titled "The Eagle," and once part of the collection of the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y., will also go under the hammer.
"All the images in the collection are extraordinary rare or unique and just simply no longer available on the market," said Paterson.
Reporting by Patricia Reaney,; editing by Jackie Frank