'The Six-Mark Tea-pot', 1880 by George du Maurier – £1000 at Wallis & Wallis.

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The original ink drawing for one of his most famous cartoons lampooning the porcelain collecting craze of the Aesthetic movement in 1880 appeared for sale in unlikely circumstances earlier this month.

The Six-Mark Tea-pot references a quote from Oscar Wilde who quipped that he was “finding it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue and white china”. The artist has the Aesthetic Bridegroom saying: It is quite consummate is it not! His Intense Bride replies: It is indeed Algernon. Let us live up to it! In the same vein is the famous Royal Worcester ‘Aesthetic’ teapot with its inscription: ‘Fearful consequences through the laws of Natural Selection and Evolution of Living up to one’s Teapot.’

Remarkably, the drawing was included in a sale held by toys and arms and armour specialists Wallis & Wallis in Lewes on September 2 with an estimate of just £30-50. It sold for £1000 (plus premium) to the dealer Andrew Sim of Sim Fine Art in Chislehurst, Kent. “This was no ordinary drawing by Du Maurier. The Six-Mark Teapot is his most celebrated drawing and arguably the most famous satire of the Oscar Wilde brand of Aestheticism.

“It has been talked and written about in Wilde biographies for over 100 years but until now, it has been known only by its engraved reproduction in Punch. This, the original sepia ink drawing, has been missing since 1880.”