Minton Peacock card

Minton Peacock

WAG 3985

On display

Information

Fancy this fabulous proudly-strutting ceramic peacock for your conservatory? For the late Victorians this would have been the ultimate home accessory - combining their crazes for nature, the exotic and bold colours. The tail feathers are magnificent, with their glazed blues and greens suggesting their famous iridescence, and their 'hundred eyes' - in many cultures symbolizing the stars, or warding against evil. In India, where the peacock is the national bird - symbolising wealth and royalty - decadent rulers once had their servants fan them with these feathers. This peacock was made in Stoke-on-Trent, at the Minton Factory - of willow-pattern-plate fame. It was modeled by French sculptor Paul Comolera, whose bird bronzes were prized for their accuracy. Another Frenchman, Leon Arnoux, did the glazes - coloured with lead oxides and painted directly onto the clay. He'd developed this technique, called Majolica, inspired by the bright colours of Italian Renaissance Maiolica. In Medieval art the peacock represents immortality and Christ's resurrection. This was because it renews its feathers annually, and its flesh was believed to resist decay. In the late eighteen hundreds many artists were influenced by Medieval art. So peacocks became especially popular then. If you look around in this room you'll spot another. Liberty's Department Store in London produced a peacock-feather motif fabric - and on the peacock strutted into the nineteen hundreds. The Liberty fabric's still going strong, so you might have it at home. But what you won't have is a Minton peacock. This one's a rare survivor from a limited edition of only twelve. Another was shipwrecked off Australia and hauled up the cliffs, still in its crate. When the crate was opened, miraculously the peacock was still in perfect condition. Peacocks can eat poisonous snakes without harm. It was believed they transformed the poison into the iridescence on their feathers. The iridescence isn't pigment, but light reflecting from tiny fibres. The peacock is associated with the Roman goddess Juno who needed to keep an eye - or a hundred - on her husband Jupiter. He had an eye for the ladies.