'Natasha' by Vasily Filipovich Rudnev fetched £900 at Moore Allen & Innocent.

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From the large estate of a private collector, the 102-lot collection was devoted to a diverse array of 20th century Soviet art, varying in size and media, by named and unknown artists.

“The paintings had USSR art fund labels, akin to state sanctioned art works,” said Philip Allwood, auctioneer and valuer at MA&I. It was a challenge to catalogue.

“The majority were by relatively unknown or completely unheard-of artists. If you research the names in Cyrillic, nothing comes up.”

The majority of interest came from Russian buyers, with every lot bar two getting away, the majority of the works selling in the low three figures, with a handful achieving four figures.

Among the most desired was a pensive portrait of a woman, titled Natasha, by the relatively unknown painter Vasily Filipovich Rudnev (b.1928). Painted in 1979, the 4ft 3in x 22in (1.3m x 57cm) oil was secured by a local English collector for £900 against a £300-500 estimate.

Elsewhere, a 21in x 2ft 2in (54 x 63cm) landscape titled Shady Hillock and signed by A Milnikov sold for the top price of £4600, overshooting its £50-80 estimate.

It is possible it was painted by Andrei Mylinikov (1919-2012), a well-known and sought-after artist who played an important role in the formation of the Leningrad school of painting.

Elsewhere, the same buyer also secured a winning bid of £2500, against an identical estimate, for a 1986 Russian School lake landscape signed by an unknown artist.