Pablo Picasso's Nature morte aux tulipes has sold as top lot at Sotheby's $163m Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale, with five of his works dominating the top 10 sales.
The November 8 auction in New York saw the painting sell for $41m, with bids stopping midway between its $35m-50m valuation.
Nature morte aux tulips depicts Picasso's young mistress and muse, Marie-Therese Walter, and is part of the series that first propelled the artist to the forefront of the art world. It is one of the works that Picasso completed for the major retrospective that he orchestrated in the summer of 1932.
It was at the exhibition that the artist's wife, Olga, was first alerted to his relationship with Marie-Therese, ultimately leading to the collapse of their marriage.
Another portrait of Marie-Therese, this time realised in 1936 and entitled Femme a la fenetre, followed as the auction's second most valuable lot. The piece sold for $17m, comfortably within its $15m-20m estimate.
Sotheby's head of impressionist and modern art, Simon Shaw, commented: "Tonight's solid results demonstrate clearly that in this market there continues to be a search for quality. Pablo Picasso was tonight's star with his 1932 portrait of Marie-Therese Walter sought-after by bidders from several parts of the world."
The evening sale was preceded by Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art day sale, which saw Picasso's Tete d'Homme headline. Those wishing to join the lively market for Picasso will want to view our signed postcard.
Also appearing among the auction's top lots was Claude Monet's Champ de blue, which sold 73.1% above its $7m high estimate at $12m. The sale follows Christie's auction of his Nympheas, which is now the second most valuable Monet sold at auction.
Paul Fraser Collectibles is currently offering a signed letter from Monet, which is handwritten on headed paper from his famous Giverny home.