Sotheby’s June Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in London

So you have a craving to see works by the most famous artists of the 20th century? If you're within striking distance of a major city there's probably a gallery or museum with a permanent collection that also hosts the traveling exhibits that have become so popular in recent years. But if you're out in the sticks, what to do? You can purchase books but these are pretty pricey. For those of us with modest budgets, happily there's quite a bit online and one of the overlooked sources are the sites of auction houses, such as Christie's and Sotheby's.

These are worth our attention because a ton of top work flows through their hands, much of which has been in private hands for decades and thus out of the public view. These days the auction sites not only post large, high-quality images of what's on the block but wrap up their offerings with significant art historical perspective, thanks to the depth of their expertise. Sotheby's upcoming Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London falls within this lineage, with just 27 lots on offer, most of them being quite significant and a few outstanding, such as the early Cubist portrait by Picasso. You'll find a few of our faves are below, with the complete collection available on the Sotheby's site.

Update: The sale brought in a very respectable $151.9 million, with details on the BlouinArtInfo site.

Pablo Picasso, FEMME ASSISE, oil on canvas, painted in summer 1909

Amedeo Modigliani, JEANNE HÉBUTERNE (AU FOULARD), oil on canvas, painted in 1919

Paul Gauguin, NATURE MORTE AUX POMMES, oil on canvas, painted in 1890

Edvard Munch, THE SCREAM, lithograph on wove paper, executed in 1895

Francis Picabia, EN BADINANT, watercolor and pencil on paper, executed in 1914

Wifredo Lam, FRUITS TROPICAUX, oil on canvas, painted in 1969.

Joan Miró, POÈTE ÉCRIVANT UN POÈME DICTÉ PAR L'OISEAU DE PASSAGE, oil, gouache, watercolor and wax crayon on card, executed on 9th September 1973