Stove Tile Depicting Alexander the Great; Stove Tile Depicting Nimrod

Object Details


Stove Tile Depicting Alexander the Great; Stove Tile Depicting Nimrod


Georg Leupold (German, active 17th century)




Nuremberg, Germany (Place created)


mid-17th century


Lead-glazed earthenware

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These magnificent relief-molded tiles once formed part of the wall of a stove. From the 1300s onward, brick or glazed tile stoves heated the main rooms of homes by radiating warmth through their exteriors from a series of pipes. Because they could both withstand and evenly transmit heat, ceramic tiles were well suited to this function.

Two heroic leaders, Alexander the Great and Nimrod, decorate the tiles, which once formed part of a larger group probably decorated with similarly powerful men. The unknown distinguished patron who commissioned them might have wished to associate himself with the figures' powerful qualities. On one tile, Alexander wears fantastic classical armor and a feathered headdress and holds a staff and banner. At his feet crouches Cerberus, the monstrous three-headed dog and gatekeeper of the Underworld. The other tile shows Nimrod, a legendary Assyrian whom the Bible described as "the first on earth to be a mighty man . . . . a mighty hunter before the Lord." He also wears fantastic garb, combining classical armor with an eastern type of flowing breeches. Like Alexander, he holds a banner and a small staff, while a winged lion crouches at his feet.

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