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.