NEW YORK (AFP) - Christies and Sothebys hold their big autumn art sales in New York starting next week, with both houses looking to Pablo Picasso to excite a robust market. The prominence of important works by Picasso, Matisse and other modern masters in the impressionist and modern art sales at Christies on Tuesday and Sothebys on Wednesday reflects the healthy appetite this year for big-ticket works, auctioneers said. A strong market is also expected the following week when the two houses hold their contemporary art auctions. Simon Shaw, head of the modern and impressionist department at Sothebys, said the offerings are slightly bigger in the number of lots, (which) reflects perhaps an increased confidence. A low estimate of $185 million is expected for the Wednesday sale, led by Picassos playful and erotic LAubade, estimated at $18-25 million, and Henri Matissses monumental bronze sculpture of a woman seen from the back, Nu de dos, estimated at $20-30 million. Another keenly awaited lot is the mosaic-like pastoral scene Litzlberg on the Attersee by Gustav Klimt, estimated in excess of $25 million. Christies, meanwhile, promised a blockbuster sale aiming for more than $215 million, with a centerpiece in Edgar Degass landmark sculpture Petite danseuse de quatorze ans, estimated at $25-35 million.