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Tile

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1250-1275 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware, with line-impressed decoration

  • Museum number:

    175-1902

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 9, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Gallery, case 1

Line impressed floor tiles became popular in the Rhineland during the second half of the 13th century. These were typically decorated with bold, linear designs of hunting scenes, figures and heraldic animals. Although the design on this tile appears simplistic, it has been composed with a surprising amount of detail and shows the typical German knightly attire of the mid to late 13th-century.
The knight wears a ‘great helm’, a barrel shaped helmet with eye-slits and vents for air. The hands are shown covered in mitten-like gloves, from which it is possible to deduce that he is wearing a full suit of mail - the sleeve and glove would be made of one piece. The mail shirt (a hawberk) would also have had a hood. The rendering of the legs and feet, with no join or line, shows that he wears mail hose, in the manner of a pair of tights. He is armed with a lance and carries a shield of the 'heater' variety. His warhorse wears no armour, but has an heraldic coat on which the knights arms would have been emblazoned.

Physical description

A square, grey earthenware tile decorated with a line impressed image of a knight on horseback, set within a square line border. The tile has been damaged on the right edge and chipped in various places.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)

Date

ca. 1250-1275 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Earthenware, with line-impressed decoration

Dimensions

Height: 13.3 cm, Width: 13.3 cm, Depth: 2.3 cm, Weight: 0.7 kg

Object history note

From the Church of St Andrew Worms. Bought from the collection of Dr R Forrer of Strasbourg.

Historical context note

Line impressed floor tiles became popular in the Rhineland during the second half of the 13th century. These were typically decorated with bold, linear designs of hunting scenes, figures and heraldic animals, as well as foliated roundels. Such tiles have been found over a wide area; though principally in the Rhineland cities of Konstanz, Strasbourg, Mainz, Frankfurt, Cologne and Dusseldorf.
The apparent simplicity of the impressed design belies the detail with which the image has actually been composed and conveys a great deal concerning the equipment of a German knight of this period. The knight wears a ‘great helm’, a barrel shaped helmet with eye-slits and vents for air - a type of helmet which remained popular in Germany longer than elsewhere. The hands are shown covered in mitten-like gloves, from which it is possible to deduce that he is wearing a full suit of mail - the sleeve and glove would be made of one piece. The mail shirt (a hawberk) would also have had a hood.
The horizontal line across the leg just below the knee may have been intended to suggest knee armour, consisting of a plate covering the knee. This is known as a ‘Poleyn’ and would have a date no earlier than about 1245. In their earliest incarnation the poelyn would have been made of metal or boiled leather. The rendering of the legs and feet, with no join or line, shows that he wears mail hose, in the manner of a pair of tights.
He is armed with a lance and carries a shield of the 'heater' variety. His warhorse wears no armour, but has an heraldic coat on which the knights arms would have been emblazoned. The back-rest of the high war saddle is visible behind the knight. The tile depicts typical German knightly attire of the mid to late 13th-century.

Descriptive line

Tile of grey earthenware, impressed with the figure of a knight on horseback, from the Church of St Andrew at Worms, Germany, about 1250-75

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

Graves, A. Tiles and Tilework (V&A Publications, 2002) p.22

Production Note

From the Church of St Andrew at Worms, Germany

Materials

Earthenware

Techniques

Impressed

Subjects depicted

Horse; Knight; Armour; Weapon; Shield

Categories

Ceramics; Tiles

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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