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An established market already exists in the West for major Asian artists from the first half of the 20th century such as Qi Baishi (1864-1957) and Foujita Tsuguharu (1886-1968), whose paintings furnished proceedings with six of the top ten lots. But additionally the interest in other lesser known artists from a mix of US, UK, European and Asian private and trade buyers was great enough to ensure a 57 per cent take-up by lot and a £245,600 total. At least 20 other paintings sold immediately after the sale, pushing the overall take-up to a respectable 63 per cent by lot.

"We had to find out what sells and what doesn't, but we sold within every category… we had less mainland Chinese interest than we hoped for but buyers ranged from Asian dealers and collectors to one-off UK buyers and more serious collectors of contemporary art," said Sotheby's specialist Seonaid Maclean-Bristol.

The most expensive entry was a 1944 Qi Baishi hanging scroll (shown right), Crow on a Melon, in ink and colour on paper. Measuring 3ft 5 1/2 x 13 1/2in (1.06m x 35cm), the subject matter was much favoured by the artist who, after the age of 40, resolved to paint "all the insects and birds in the whole world". This scroll was executed when he was 87 years old.

Amongst China's most prolific 20th century artists, his work is often faked, but there was no question as to the authenticity of this entry, whose strong bold calligraphy helped propel it to a winning £23,000 tendered by a Hong Kong dealer against private UK interest.

Foremost in the Japanese section was Chat et Chaton, a signed painting in ink on colour on paper by Foujita Tsuguharu (shown right). One of the few Japanese Western-style painters to have an international reputation, his work adorns private and public collections in Asia, Europe and USA and a Continental private buyer secured this 11 1/2 x 12 1/2in (29cm x 32cm) this work at £11,000.