The principal inspiration was Oscar Wilde and the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operetta Patience, first performed in 1881.
Worcester’s design also pokes fun at an exhibition held at the Grosvenor Gallery when a single Chinese teapot was put on display to represent perfection in design and visitors were invited to go home and ‘Live up to it’.
The pink inscription to the base reading Fearful consequences through the law of natural selection and evolution of living up to one’s teapot alludes to this, as well as the controversy that was still raging over Darwin’s theories on evolution.
The identity of Budge whose name also appears on the base has proved elusive but is probably a pseudonym chosen by Worcester’s art director RW Binns. He is thought to have been the teapot’s designer with the model probably made by James Hadley.
This example offered on October 19 at Denhams in Horsham, West Sussex, was in particularly good condition with only a small chip to the lily that the lovesick maiden wears on her lapel.
It was previously part of Edward Bramah’s Tea and Coffee Museum in Southwark and later in the 105-piece collection of teapots assembled by Colin E Hanley that was sold at Sotheby’s in May 2014.
Eight years ago it had made £4000, joining the massive collection of Gilbert and Sullivan memorabilia assembled by Melvyn Tarran (1938-2022) and displayed at Sheffield Park and Garden on the edge of the Sussex Weald near Uckfield. This time, guided at £3000-5000, it sold to a UK private collector for £10,500 (plus 20% buyer’s premium).