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Pablo Picasso painting of muse Marie-Thérèse Walter fetches $67.5M at auction

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Pablo Picasso painting of muse Marie-Thérèse Walter fetches $67.5M at auction
"Femme nue couchée" is a surrealistic and abstract depiction of Pablo Picasso's lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, in 1932. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

May 18 (UPI) -- An abstract painting of a nude woman by Pablo Picasso has sold for $67.5 million, leading Sotheby's auction of Modern art that netted $408.5 million total.

With Tuesday night's sale, the 1932 painting, Femme nue couchée (Naked woman lying), became one of the most valuable paintings of Picasso's lover Marie-Thérèse Walter. It was sold as part of Sotheby's Modern evening auction, which also included the sale of Claude Monet's Le Grand Canal et Santa Maria della Salute for $56.6 million, a record for one of the French artist's paintings of Venice.

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Picasso and Walter were in a romantic relationship from 1927 to 1935, during which time Walter served as the artist's model. He completed more than a dozen paintings featuring her likeness.

Together, they had a daughter -- Maya Widmaier-Picasso.

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Femme nue couchée was among the first of a dedicated series of paintings Picasso completed of Walter in 1931 and 1932. The artwork was completed during a period when Picasso was heavily influenced by surrealism, featuring figures with twisted bodies and disorganized faces.

"A crowning achievement of painterly verve, energy and manipulation of the human form, the present work succinctly synthesizes the artist's groundbreaking achievements of the late 1920s and early 1930s into one colorful, dynamic canvas," Sotheby's said of the painting on its website.

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Another six artworks by Picasso sold at Tuesday night's auction, including L'Étreinte (The Embrace), a painting of a couple in the middle of a tryst, for $14.1 million, and a sculpture titled Femme debout (Standing woman), for $2.1 million.

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Other notable sales at Tuesday's auction included Paul Cézanne's Clairière (The Glade) for $42 million, Willem De Kooning's Leaves in Weehawken for $10 million and Henri Matisse's Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait (Flowers or Flowers in front of a portrait) for $15.3 million.

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