A Minton Peacock.

Minton made twelve of these peacocks in the 1870’s and only nine are known to survive. This example has been roosting in the Walker gallery in Liverpool since 1891. (One of the other survivors is very lucky still to be here, as it survived the shipwreck of the Loch Ard on its way to an exhibition in Sydney. It was washed up on the Australian coast almost undamaged in its crate a few days later.)  It is made from earthenware majolica and it was modelled in 1873 by Paul Comolera, a French sculptor who worked at Minton from 1873-76 after originally working in bronze. It was fired all in one piece, which makes it a major technical achievement as well as an artistic one, given that  it is about four feet tall. The lead glaze was painted directly onto the fine buff earthenware body, giving bright clear transparent colours. Majolica is the perfect medium to showcase a bird who is a strutting, glamorous show off and the thick coloured glossy glazes buzz with colour. This is a bravura piece, so far over the top that it has come down the other side and become something marvelous, a fine example of  the skill and ingenuity of Victorian craftsmen, and a perfect example of high Victorian taste. Never knowingly understated, the Victorians loved majolica. Much of it is rather too in your face for us today, but when they picked the right subject and let their best artists and craftsmen loose they were able to use it to amazing effect. What else could describe a peacock better, if you don’t have the real thing to hand? Naturally it is very valuable. One of its relatives sold for £102,000 at Bonhams back in 2002. It was made as a conservatory ornament and it would look wonderful sitting among some lush greenery with the sun coming through the glass windows and lighting up the glaze. It dominates the small gallery space that it is in, looking down disdainfully, effortlessly rendering all the other art work hanging on the walls around it invisible. You simply can’t look anywhere else when you are in its presence.

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7 comments on “A Minton Peacock.

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Wow! How beautiful; I bet that really shimmers – even small pieces of majolica are impressive, but something that big – wow, again! Fired in one piece, too … hmm, this bird has every right to look superior! xx

  2. Peter Abbott says:

    Interesting to read your story on the peacock that was just sold in UK.

    I manage Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village here in Warrnambool Australia. We hold the most famous shipwreck artefact – the Minton Loch Ard Peacock.

    You maybe interested to know we have just had this peacock revalued and insured for $4m Australian Dollars.

    We have just launched a new book on the history of the Loch Ard Peacock that is available for sale on our online gift shop.

    The loch ard peacock was infact slightly damaged when it was washed up on the beach at Loch Ard Gorge. The new book reveals more details of this damage and how it ensures our birds was the one washed ashore and therefore greatly adds to the value of our birds.

    You will also see on our gift shop we have 50cm Royal Doulton pieces that are based on the minton loch ard peacock for just $19500 each – Last 6 left in the world are with us.

    Happy answer any queries and please pass on to your subscribers to have a look at our web site.

    • patricia1957 says:

      Thank you for that- really interesting. I have altered my post to reflect the fact that your Minton peacock was in fact slightly damaged.

    • Oh I loved that peacock. We were visiting family in Bendigo and made off on our own up the Ocean Road…Stayed in an hotel just by the bay where the Loch Ard went down, and then went on to your wonderful museum. And met the peacock. The amazing air of arrogance that creature had (beak and all!) just captivated me; when we came home we went to the Minton exhibition in Stoke and found another one; then there was the one which was sold at Christies in 02. I bought a brooch in the museum shop in the shape of the peacock; and I have just lost the blessed thing. I am so upset. I hope I can get another.

      Can’t find the peacock on the Stoke Museums’ website. Can’t imagine they will have sold that one; but of course it may be on tour! Turning its nose up at wherever it is!
      Interesting when I went to put in my details below, the system put a username in automatically which relates to my ID on another system, but ‘three’ instead of ‘two’ on the end…we are not alone!

  3. mathew bugg says:

    i want one

  4. Sheila Smith says:

    I think it would look great outside my window….

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