A macabre work of art depicting stuffed animals relaxing in a tea room by controversial Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter has gone on sale for £1,000.
The bizarre piece shows three squirrels, a stout, two mice, a blue tit and a goldfinch dressed in clothes sipping tea and chatting.
It also features a squirrel wearing a top hat serving drinks to another in a flowing dress, as she parades two mice on ‘leads’.
A flat-cap wearing weasel smokes a cigarette as a third squirrel sips tea with the two birds at her feet.
The display stands 20ins tall and 32ins wide and is thought to be the work of Victorian artist Walter Potter, who created a storm last year when pieces of his work went on show in London.
Renowned for his macabre creations, the majority of his work was sold by Bonhams for a staggering £500,000 in 2003, when they were housed at Jamaica Inn, Cornwall.
This piece is being sold for £1,000 by Chris Strong, owner of Fagin’s Antiques in Exeter, Devon, who admits the style splits opinion.
He came across the piece at a private house auction three weeks ago and has been restoring it before it officially went on sale last week.
Mr Strong said: ”It has attracted a lot of attention since it went on sale. Some people hated it, but it made some people laugh. I think it is quite amazing.
”We had another Potter creation in last year which showed squirrels playing cards, and that was sold to a collector in America.
”These animals are highly collectible to some people.”
Mr Potter was creating the items up until 1890 and they were displayed until the 1970’s at his Museum of Curiosities in Sussex.
Celebrity fans include comedian Harry Hill and photographer David Bailey who bought pieces at the auction, held by Bonhams, in 2003.
Other items from the collection sold in 2003 include a ‘Kitten’s Wedding’ which sold for £21,150 and ‘The Death and Burial of Cock Robin’ which sold for £23,500.