Medieval Floor Tiles in High Relief and Bas-relief
Albert Reinstra - page 4
A relatively unknown group of ceramic tiles in the Netherlands are medieval relief tiles. Most of them are floor tiles with a stamped design in high or low relief, which were used from the first half of the thirteenth century mainly in churches and monasteries. Only one floor, in the infirmary of the Cistercian monastery of Aduard, has partially survived, the rest in the course of time having fallen victim to renovations, burials or the Reformation. The large number of individual archaeological finds preserved in various museums proves that many more tile floors once existed.
A broad range of tiles and designs has been discovered. The dimensions vary from region to region, as do the colours. In the province of Friesland, for instance, red and yellow tiles up to 9 cm thick are known, whereas in the provinces of Utrecht and Holland the predominantly red tiles are often no thicker than 2.5 to 3 cm on average. The tiles that have been inventoried also show that linear, vegetative and especially figurative motifs were popular. Depictions of people, animals and mythical creatures are often based on bible texts or bestiaries. These point to deeper religious or ethical layers of meaning and thus provide a fascinating insight into medieval man’s perception of the world. Such ‘narrative’ tiles were often arranged in circular patterns, which may in their turn have played a role in liturgy or ritual. A number of tiles, from Utrecht or Aduard for instance, are known to have been produced locally. This is less certain in other cases, where similar types of tiles have been found on different sites. The reason may be that tile makers travelled from place to place, or that there was a regional or international trade in tiles.
Owing to the large amount of information they can provide, relief tiles are an important historical source. We should therefore take great care in any alterations we make to historic ecclesiastical buildings, our oldest buildings containing our oldest tiles.
Tile Finds in Zeeland
Peter Hendrikse - page 17
The soil of the south-western province of Zeeland, particularly the former island of Walcheren, has yielded a large number of early diamond border tiles. Peter Hendrikse and a group of fellow collectors have put together a selection of these tiles to be presented in this issue of Tegel. Hendrikse describes some of the features of the tiles, including the way they were painted, that point to Middelburg (on Walcheren) as the place of production.
In the debate which has been going on for some years about the influence of Antwerp on tile production in the Dutch Republic, the Zeeland collectors follow Arend Jan Gierveld, whose conclusions are given in Tegel 32. However, this contribution is principally intended as pictorial documentation.
Seven Centuries of Tile Production in Kütahya
Hans Theunissen - page 21
Our image of Ottoman Turkish ceramic production is dominated by the well-known İznik ceramics. However, Kütahya, too, has been an important centre for the production of ceramics, including tiles, for 700 years.
Initially the tiles were applied in mosaic patterns and lustre glazes were used. In the fifteenth century the cuerda seca technique was applied, before making way for blue and white under-glaze decoration. Kütahya’s golden age was the first half of the eighteenth century. In 1718-1719 polychrome bible (!) tiles were produced, which eventually were used in the Armenian Cathedral of St. James in Jerusalem. There was collaboration between Armenian and Turkish tile makers.
Kütahya suffered a major decline around the time of the first world war, but it has been enjoying a marked revival since 1970. Tiles and tile pictures are once again among the principal products of the ceramic studios in Kütahya.
Horseman Tiles in Schwetzingen, made in Rotterdam
Wilhelm Joliet - page 28
In 1723 and 1727 the Rotterdam tile manufacturer Hendrik Schut (1682/83-1738) supplied the Elector Palatine in Germany with a total of 35,000 (!) tiles. They were used in the decoration of the Orangery and the Ballroom of his residence in Schwetzingen. Later a small number were moved to the Summerhouse. The set of 269 tiles with horsemen in 23 different designs are especially notable. These horseman tiles were exported not only to Germany, but to France, England and Portugal and appear to have been popular with the European nobility.
‘Good Luck!’ Tile Plaque made by Alkmaar Pottery Hands
Juliette van Seters - page 32
The article describes a tile made in 1805 by employees of a tile factory in Alkmaar, in the province of Noord-Holland, that wishes their new directors success and asks for God’s blessing. The pottery, which was founded as early as the seventeenth century, was destroyed by fire in 1810.
St. Hubert’s Chapel in Amsterdam depicted on a Rozenburg Tile Picture
Ger J.M. de Ree - page 34
The N.V. Haagsche Plateelbakkerij Rozenburg (The Hague Pottery Rozenburg Ltd., 1883-1917) was the best-known Dutch ceramics factory of its day. It produced a large quantity of tiles and tile pictures for external application and for decorative or commemorative purposes. The tile picture described in this article depicts St. Hubert’s Chapel on Stadhouderskade in Amsterdam, which together with the adjacent St. Joseph’s Home for Retired Craftsmen was founded by the first Warden, the Honourable H.C.J.M. van Nispen. The tile picture was made in 1907, ten years after Van Nispen’s death, and, according to the Rozenburg archives, was painted by Leenderd de Weij. The photo of the Chapel used as a model by the painter is preserved in a private collection.
Paul Stoffels, a strong-minded tile veteran
Lejo Schenk - page 38
In editor Lejo Schenk’s interview with him, Paul Stoffels talks with passion about the many hobbies and hobby-horses that have won his interest over the past 93 years. Paul, classical scholar and lawyer, has been a member of the Society of Friends of the Dutch Tile Museum since its foundation in 1971. As a Committee Member of the historical society Oud-Monnickendam (Monnickendam is an ancient town north of Amsterdam), he was actively involved in the events surrounding the old tile collection of C. van Tijen, general practitioner in Monnickendam from 1903 till 1921. This collection was eventually brought under the hammer in Zwolle in 2003. However, part of the original collection has been preserved and is now permanently on view at De Speeltoren Museum in Monnickendam. Particularly striking are four pictures of two by two tiles depicting apostles.
The Tile Pictures of Karel Appel
Martin van Meurs - page 42
Karel Appel, the most celebrated Dutch artist of the post-war period, died on 3rd May, 2006. Tile walls and tile pictures form an important but still underexposed part of his oeuvre.
Like most CoBrA artists, Appel started working with ceramics early (in the late forties), using a muted palette. He designed his first tile wall around 1960 at the request of J.J.P. Oud, the renowned architect, for Bio-Vakantieoord (a holiday camp for poor children) at Arnhem. By then he was using the bright colours that became his trademark. Many major commissions from home and abroad followed. In Henk Trumpie’s studio, Structuur 1968, Appel created three smaller tile pictures for the art market. One of them, entitled Personage, was acquired early this year by the Dutch Tile Museum. The Museum had already acquired the transitional work Bearded Head. The Dutch Tile Museum is thus the only museum in the world exhibiting tile pictures by Karel Appel.