Picasso's Tete de Femme (1935) was the headline lot of Sotheby's impressionist and modern art evening sale in London on February 3.
It sold for £18.8m ($27.1m).
The work depicts Marie-Therese Walter, Picasso's most famous muse, who appears in some of his most memorable paintings.
Walter explained that she first met Picasso in 1927, at the age of 17: "I was an innocent girl. I knew nothing - either of life or of Picasso...
"I had gone to do some shopping at the Galeries Lafayette, and Picasso saw me leaving the Metro. He simply took me by the arm and said, 'I am Picasso! You and I are going to do great things together".
The present work is one of a handful painted while Picasso was in the process of divorcing his wife. Later that year Walter would give birth to his daughter, Maya.
Claude Monet's Le Palais Ducal vu de Saint-Georges Majeur made £11.5m ($16.6m).
The canvas is one of 37 Monet painted on his only trip to Venice, in 1908. The deeply atmospheric works are among his most celebrated.
He split his time there into periods of two hours, painting each of his subjects (the various palaces and waterways) at exactly the same time each day.
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