Majolica is a soft earthenware ceramic, fired to the "biscuit" or unglazed stage at approximately 1100 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the plaster of Paris molds are removed, the resulting form is then covered with a coat of an opaque lead glaze. Later, when this has set or dried, the brightly colored metal oxide glazes are added on top of this first lead glaze coating. When fired for the second time, this time at 750 degrees, the interaction of the water which remained in the biscuit form, the opaque lead glaze and the final metal oxide glazes interact in the kiln to create the deep and brilliant translucent color specific to majolica. It is this glaze, the tremendous variety of whimsical forms, and the intense colors of majolica that make this ceramic stand apart from other wares and delight collectors.
'Majolica,' developed by ceramist Herbert Minton and chemist Leon Arnoux together in 1849, was first shown to the public at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. This new art form, albeit a true culmination of centuries of ceramic inspiration and glazing technical achievements, was totally new to the world at the peak of the Industrial Revolution, when prosperity allowed one to look beyond the dull white ironstones, blue and white, terra-cotta, and other wares then overused in the average home, and was immediately received by the public at large as well as Queen Victoria, who fell at once under the 'spell' of the forms and glazes offered by Herbert Minton's 'Majolica'.
The majolica enthusiast is constantly looking for rarities such as that pictured. This is a true example of Minton majolica at its best. In keeping with their goal of offering exceptional majolica, in both quality and forms. They were right on target for this great mother hen and her chicks. The serenity of the scene is truly heartwarming while showing the security the mother provides for her latest offspring. It is pieces like this that stand out in feeling and design, which capture nature itself with such realism, that keep majolica 'hunters' charged with drive and inspiration.