The vibrant lead glazed earthenwares of majolica were originally an exercise in historicism but the range soon ran to more contemporary, naturalistic subjects. A number of well-regarded European sculptors were employed in The Potteries to create models.
The well-documented hen and rooster vases – the largest of which is 14in (35cm) high – were modelled by the Cologne-born sculptor Johann Hénk (c.1847-1921) in 1875 at height of majolica’s popularity.
This particular model is one of only a handful to include the name of the modeller in the mould – an indication of Henk’s standing at the time. Madelena’s founder David Tulk points to their exceptional colouring and the quality of manufacture. “Not all majolica is this fine,” he says. “Collectors know the difference”.