Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    Stoke-on-Trent (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1855 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kirkby, Thomas, born 1821 - died 1890 (painter (artist))
    Minton (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware, painted in imitation of maiolica

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 123, case 1

Object Type
Painted majolica plaques and vases were part of a range of Renaissance-inspired wares produced by Minton during the 19th century. These imitate Italian painted tin-glazed earthenwares (known as maiolica), but only rarely did they reproduce designs precisely. On this example, a Renaissance-style portrait of Queen Victoria is surrounded by 'grotesque' ornament. One of a pair, this plaque is an ambitious and technically accomplished object, and indeed, the two were displayed by Minton at the Paris Exhibition of 1855. The second plaque, depicting the Empress Eugénie, is now in the Swiss Cottage, Osborne House, Isle of Wight.

This plaque was painted by Thomas Kirkby (1824-1890), who was born in Trentham in Staffordshire. Kirkby was employed by Mintons from 1841, and was said to have painted the first piece of majolica produced by the firm. He certainly played an important role the production of the wares. These portrait plaques, made after designs by Silas Rice, clearly demonstrate his accomplishment as a pottery painter.

Physical description

Earthenware painted in enamel colours in the style of maiolica, and consciously imitates the older style with grotesques and a profile bust of Queen Victoria.

Place of Origin

Stoke-on-Trent (made)


ca. 1855 (made)


Kirkby, Thomas, born 1821 - died 1890 (painter (artist))
Minton (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Earthenware, painted in imitation of maiolica


Diameter: 63 cm

Object history note

In 1855, at the time it was collecting Italian Renaissance maiolica, the Museum purchased this contemporary dish from the Paris Exhibition. It consciously imitates the older style with grotesques and a profile bust of Queen Victoria.

Painted by Thomas Kirkby (born in Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, 1824, died in 1890); made by Minton & Co., Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

Descriptive line

Majolica plate with portrait of Queen Victoria, earthenware painted by Thomas Kirkby in enamel colours, made by Minton & Co., England, about 1855

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Starcky, Emmanuel, Napoleon III et la reine Victoria: une visite à l’Exposition universelle de 1855, Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 2008.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Queen Victoria made a state visit to Paris in 1855 and visited the International Exhibition. Minton displayed this plaque there as an example of their new majolica ware, which imitated Italian Renaissance maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware). [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Portraits; Grotesques; Urns; Monarchs; Lions; Profiles; Cornucopia; Women; Queens; Empresses; Crowns


Ceramics; Royalty; Portraits


Ceramics Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.