Established in 1793 in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, the Minton pottery and porcelain factory underwent a renaissance in 1848 when its director Herbert Minton employed a French potter Leon Arnoux (1816-1902). Promoted to Art Director in 1849, Arnoux soon introduced an impressive range of technical developments, most particularly the majolica glazes. First shown to the public in the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, these brilliantly coloured, translucent glazes were an instant success.
The majority of Minton's majolica ware bore little technical resemblance to their Italian Renaissance maiolica prototypes which were tin-glazed, with the colour painted on the friable white surface of the tin glaze. Majolica glazes could be painted directly onto the buff (biscuit) body and while similarly coloured to the opaque maiolica tin glazes, they were much brighter, clear, lead glazes.
The peacock figure was modelled by Paul Comolera (1818-1897), one of French artists employed by Arnoux. A noted animalier (animal sculptor), he worked at the Minton factory from 1873 to 1876. Modelled in 1873, the peacock is one of the best known examples of Comolera's work. Made as a conservatory ornament, it was used by Mintons as an advertisement for its majolica-glazed wares at various international exhibitions including the 1880-81 Melbourne Exhibition. At least 12 peacock figures were made by Mintons of which only eight are believed to have survived. Two examples are in Australian public collections, including the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney.
Made: c. 1875