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A Christie´s employee looks at Picasso´s "Homme a l'epee". This painting sold today for £5,753,250 / $9,372,044 / €6,737,056. Photo: EFE/Andy Rain

LONDON.- A "musketeer" painted by Pablo Picasso was one of the big attractions at an auction of impressionist and modern art at Christie's held in London, where it sold for 5.7 million pounds ($9.3 million).

The 1969 work, "Homme a l'Epee," was the second most expensive lot of the session, after Monet's "Au Parc Monceau," that went for 6.3 million pounds ($10.3 million).

Painted on canvas, the Picasso work shows an exhuberant and colorful swordsman in a scene that mixes thick brush strokes in which red and yellow predominate.

Just by chance the rival auction house Sotheby's is offering this Wednesday to the highest bidder another musketeer - this one painted on wood - by Picasso, executed on July 25, 1969, one day before the one sold at Christie's.

Both works figured in the famous 1970 exhibition at the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France, together with other musketeers, lovers and gentlemen, all charged with energy and a contagious humor.

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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)  Homme à l'épée, oil on canvas, 63¾ x 51¼ in. (162 x 130 cm.). Painted on 26 July 1969. Estimate £5,000,000 - £7,000,000 . Price Realized £5,753,250. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2009

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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)  Homme à l'épée, oil on board, 57 1/2 by 44 7/8 in. (146 by 114cm). Painted on 25th July 1969. Estimate 6,000,000—8,000,000 GBP. Photo Sotheby's. 

Another important Spanish artist, Joan Miro (1893-1983), led the bidding Tuesday at Christie's, where his "Peinture (Femme se poudrant)" sold for 3.9 million pounds ($6.4 million).

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Joan Miró (1893-1983) Peinture (Femme se poudrant), oil, gouache, watercolour, pastel and India ink on canvas. 13 7/8 x 18 1/8 in. (35.3 x 46 cm.)  Painted in 1949. Estimate £2,200,000 - £2,800,000. Price Realized  £3,961,250. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2009

Giovanna Bertazzoni, Director and Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s London: “During the last 6 months, our auctions of Impressionist and Modern Art in London, Paris and New York have produced consistently solid results and this evening’s sale confirms that collectors, both new and established, have confidence buying works by established artists in this category. We see consistent demand throughout and overall the prices of individual works remain stable. At the top end of the market we continue to see strong interest and bidding as collectors seize opportunities to acquire rare and beautiful works of art.”

The top price was paid for Au Parc Monceau, 1878, by Claude Monet (1840-1926), an important painting from the vintage years of Impressionism which realised £6,313,250 / $10,284,284 / €7,392,816. It had been sold at auction only once before when it realised £3.7 million in June 2001 in London. At this evening’s auction, 2 works of art sold for over £5 million / 9 for over £1 million. Buyers (by lot / by origin) were 83% UK and Europe, 14% Americas and 3% Asia.

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Claude Monet (1840-1926)  Au Parc Monceau, oil on canvas, 25¾ x 21 3/8 in. (65.3 x 54.2 cm.). Painted in 1878. Estimate £3,500,000 - £4,500,000 . Price Realized £6,313,250. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2009

Further leading highlights of the sale included:

· Painting, 1949, by Joan Miró (1893-1983), one of an outstanding group of pictures described as being among the most important of the artist’s career which sold for £3,961,250 / $6,452,876 / €4,638,624 against a pre-sale estimate of £2.2 million to £2.8 million.

· Two large, bold works from the 1960s by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973); Homme à l'épée, 1969, which was last sold at Christie’s London in February 2005 for £2.7 million, and which realised £5,753,250 / $9,372,044 / €6,737,056 at this evening’s auction (estimate: £5 million to £7 million), and Nu assis et joueur de flûte, 1967, which realised £3,401,250 / $5,540,636 / €3,982,864 (estimate: £3 million to £4 million).

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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Nu assis et joueur de flûte, oil on canvas, 38 1/8 x 51 1/8 in. (97 x 129.9 cm.) Painted in April 1967. Estimate £3,000,000 - £4,000,000 . Price Realized £3,401,250. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2009

· Springende Pferde, 1910, by Franz Marc (1880-1916), an exciting breakthrough painting in which the artist embraces the influences of the avant gardes of the period, which was offered at auction for the first time and which sold for £3,737,250 / $6,087,980 / €4,376,320 (estimate: £3 million to £4 million).

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Franz Marc (1880-1916)  Springende Pferde, oil on canvas. 58½ x 63¼ in. (148.6 x 160.5 cm.)  Painted in Sindelsdorf in Autumn 1910. Estimate £3,000,000 - £4,000,000 . Price Realized £3,737,250. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2009

Elsewhere in the sale, Hélène by Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941) sold for £1,721,250 / $2,803,916 / €2,015,584; Mohn by Emil Nolde (1867-1956) realized £1,273,250 / $2,074,124 / €1,490,976, and Composition by Fernand Léger (1881-1955) sold for £1,217,250 / $1,982,900 / €1,425,400.

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Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941) Hélène, oil on board, 28 1/8 x 19 5/8 in. (71.5 x 50 cm.) Painted in 1911. Estimate £1,600,000 - £2,400,000. Price Realized £1,721,250. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2009

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Emil Nolde (1867-1956)  Mohn, oil on canvas, 27 1/8 x 34 5/8 in. (69 x 88 cm.) Painted in 1950. Estimate £1,200,000 - £1,600,000. Price Realized £1,273,250. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2009

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Fernand Léger (1881-1955) Nature morte (Composition pour une salle à manger) oil on canvas, 47¼ x 33½ in. (120 x 85 cm.) Painted in 1930. Estimate £1,200,000 - £1,600,000. Price Realized £1,217,250. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2009

Further highlights included Buste de Diego sur tige, a bronze by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) which sold for £1,026,850 / $1,672,739 / €1,202,441 (estimate: £750,000 to £950,000) and Mont-roig, le pont, an important early landscape by Joan Miró (1893-1983) which was painted in 1917 near his family home in Catalonia and which sold for £541,250 / $881,696 / €633,804 (estimate: £400,000 to £600,000).

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Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) Buste de Diego sur tige. bronze with brown and green patina. Height: 13 1/8 in. (33.3 cm.) Conceived circa 1952, this bronze version cast in 1981. Estimate £750,000 - £950,000. Price Realized £1,026,850. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2009

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Joan Miró (1893-1983), Mont-roig, le pont, oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 22¾ in. (46.1 x 57.7 cm.). Painted in 1917.  Estimate £400,000 - £600,000. Price Realized £541,250. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2009