Painting 5 · XI ·58 London by Richard Lin – £84,000 at McCartneys.

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The early 5ft x 3ft 4in (1.52 x 1.01m) oil on canvas, dated 1958, was inscribed Painting 5 · XI ·58 London and signed Lin Show Yu, the name the artist used until 1959.

It was one of 24 lots from the estate of Islwyn Watkins (1938-2018), a potter, artist and antiques business owner, who probably acquired the work from Lin in the early 1960s when the pair were teaching at Ravenscroft College of Art and Design.

Early work

With a few canvas tears and some crude restoration, reflected in the conservative £40,000-60,000 guide, it was purchased by a private collector from Germany who outbid competition on the phones.

The painting is an early example of Lin’s gradual development towards the highly reductive formal minimalism for which he is best known. Comparable early works from the late 1950s and early 1960s have sold at auction before, including two pristine examples at Christie’s that made around £115,000.

McCartneys auctioneer Phillip Blackman Howard said: “Lin is regarded as one of the leading artists of the 20th century and his reputation in Taiwan and east Asia has never been higher, which is why it’s been a great privilege to sell his work here in Ludlow.”

He added that the price illustrated that “a provincial auction house is capable of realising significant sales figures without the need of London salerooms”.

Prices for Lin’s later large-scale works have picked up considerably over the last decade and regularly command sums in the hundreds of thousands at auctions in London and Hong Kong, where the majority are offered.

In the major Modern British art sales held in London last month, an oil and aluminium canvas from c.1970 sold at Bonhams for £120,000.