Paul Comolera (d. 1897) is recorded as a modeller specialising in life-size models of birds and animals at Mintons from 1873 until circa 1880. He was born in Paris and after completing his studies at the Rue d'Enfer, as a pupil of Franois Rude, he made his debut at the Salon in 1846. The majority of his works were cast in bronze but some of his models were produced in faience by H. Boulenger & Cie, at Choisy, as well as the 'majolica' wares at Mintons.
The present life-size model of a peacock, possibly inspired by the diminutive (18 cm.) peacock modelled at the English porcelain factory of Bow in 1756, is certainly one of Comolera's most important works for Mintons and is perhaps one of the most potent images of 19th century 'majolica' to have been produced. Modelled in 1873, life-size versions of the peacock (an eleven-inch version was also produced) were exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878. A further example was destined for the 1880 International Exhibition in Melbourne, but the ship on which it was being carried, the Loch Ard, was wrecked fourteen miles from the Australian coast. The packing case was salvaged and, to Mintons credit, the bird, now known as the Loch Ard Peacock, was found in perfect condition!
It is thought that only twelve examples of the life-size peacock exist today. One example, formerly placed in the courtyard of Bickleigh Castle, Devon, the residence of Colonel Jasper Henson, was sold on behalf of his daughter, Mrs Madelaine Harward, now deceased, in these rooms, 15 February 1988, lot 325 (¨16,000). The present example, bearing the Mintons date cypher for 1876, is a second to have been owned by Mrs Harward, purchased in her home county of Devon at a later date.