Camilla appeared fascinated by the Mae West Lips Sofa created in 1938 by the famous artist Salvador Dali and Edward James, collector and patron of the surrealists.
The Duchess was shown the striking piece during a visit to the exhibition Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion.
Staged in the stunning surroundings of Two Temple Place – the neo-gothic mansion of American-born William Waldorf Astor – the free attraction features the works of artists like Henry Moore and Vanessa Bell.
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The Duchess of Cornwall paid a visit to a modernist exhibition in Sussex
It's great for the people to know the impact that Sussex has had on the surrealist movement
Sanjeev Bhaskar, Chancellor of Sussex University
The exhibition examines why so many radical artists and writers were drawn to Sussex in the first half of the 20th century, from the Bloomsbury Group at Charleston, to the art and craft of Eric Gill and David Jones in Ditchling.
After the Duchess had posed in front of the red-lipped sofa Nathaniel Hepburn, director of the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, which has loaned artwork to the exhibition, outlined the importance of Sussex to the artists.
He said: "It is where many of the radical innovations were happening in British art.
"From the craft community in Ditchling, the post-impressionist influence in Bloomsbury at Charleston, through to surrealism and 1930s socialism – all was happening within a few miles of each other along this coast in Sussex.
The exhibition features many radical artists from the 20th century
Prince Charles & Camilla in pictures
Mon, January 16, 2017
The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and Duchess of Cornwall royal visits and encounters across the globe.
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The Duchess of Cornwall with actor Tom Hiddleston at a reception following the live broadcast of the final of BBC Radio 2's 500 Words creative writing competition at Shakespeare's Globe in London.
"They were close to London where they could earn a living and they were close to the continent, the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, which still runs now, meant they had easy access to the continent and to the ideas coming out of Paris."
During the tour the Duchess tried her hand at some origami when she joined a group of children from Ditchling primary school on a visit to the exhibition.
She sat down and attempted to make a paper tulip under the guidance of storyteller Josh Gaillemin, who was showing the group what to do.
Camilla tried her hand at origami with some schoolchildren at the exhibition
At one point Camilla, who struggled a little when the folding became particularly tricky, asked the children: "Has anyone got it wrong?" and a sea of hands shot up.
Before leaving the Duchess browsed in the visitor's shop and bought a lamp and lampshade and a milk jug.
She also briefly chatted to the actor and comic Sanjeev Bhaskar, the chancellor of Sussex University, which is a partner of the exhibition.
He said after meeting the Duchess: "It's great for the people to know the impact that Sussex has had on the surrealist movement – I didn't know the extent of it, it inspired so many artists."