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 Picture World of the Late Middle Ages

Eine Ausstellung im Prácheňské Museum in Písek vom 6. Oktober bis zum 28. November 2013

The exhibition “Picture World of the Late Middle Ages” which was opened on Saturday 5 th October 2013 by the vernissage in the gallery of the Prácheňské Museum in Písek, Czech Republic, presents a unique collection of Gothic stove tiles, which are by the core findings of the 15 th and early 16 th century AD from the Písek region in South Bohemia. Organized in partnership with a wide range of institutions, including, for example the National Heritage Institute , the National Museum, the Museum of South Bohemia in České Budějovice , West Bohemian Museum in Pilsen, Archaeological Institute of Academy of Sciences in Prague , Museum Jindřichohradecka , Regional Museum in Český Krumlov or Secondary School of Applied Arts in Bechyně.

 The invention of tile stoves meant for medieval man qualitative progress of housing culture toward from the smoky parlor to clean smoke-free sitting room, which could be used as a representative room, away from the black kitchen, from where the stove is served. Gothic stoves often imitated contemporary architecture and often had a shape of fantastic tower-like structures. The exhibition at the Museum of Písek is a unique and clear archaeological and art-historical excursion which illustrates the history of medieval stove making from the two main points of view.

The exhibition is intersected by two main thematic axes. The first is the social environment in which the Gothic stove tiles occur. Burgher environment here we show on an example of findings from the town of Písek and Milevsko/Mühlhausen. Castles represent findings from Pisek and Zvikov/Klingenberg Castle. The monastery of Milevsko in turn represents the church environment. There are also the fortresses presented on an example of findings from Kestřany. And finally, is presented here the rural environment on the example of findings of a farmhouse in the village Horosedly near Mirovice. This example illustrates that in the forgotten corners of South Bohemia the Gothic stove tiles up to early modern times (it seems even on the threshold of the Thirty Years’ War) were used, when high art has longer time replaced the Gothic style by Renaissance and rising Baroque.

The second axis is constituted by the scenes on the tiles. The decorative programs of the Gothic stoves are open book of the motifs and themes of medieval imagination. The spiritual world is then superimposed on the religious pictures of the Old and New Testament or the life of the saints. It is necessary to hold in mind that we are moving back in time in denominationally divided Bohemia , so pure Hussite and Catholic motives are somewhat accentuated. There are also images of mythical characters, monsters and animals, such as unicorns, gryphons and dragons, game and tournament scenes. There are also purely decorative motifs such as rosettes and floral motifs. They are often represented by architectural motifs that are on stoves imitation of the construction of the structures. Heraldic emblems such like the family coat of arms, land and urban characters again indicate the possible ancestral ties, political alliances and preferences and economic relations. Many motifs of the tiles represent a reflection of the wealth of spiritual life of the time.

The exhibition is set in the regional context of South Bohemia. Apart from the Písek findings also exhibits the finds from the castles of Landštejn and Dívčí Kámen and the townhouses in České Budějovice, Slavonice and Český Krumlov are presented. For a comparison of the local production of the Medieval tiles, the copies of the ostentatious stove tiles from Salzburg, Austria, from 1501 are also presented. The local masterpieces are represented by the tiles of the “Hungarian” group. They have clear relationship to the tiles known from Hungarian royal site of Buda or a castle of Burgdorf in Switzerland. In this group clearly related to the Danube regions however emerges also a relief with a typical local south Bohemian topic – a tile dedicated to the legendary family relationship of the Rosenbergs with the family Orsini in Roma. Among the other finds it will be possible to see also the unique tiles with Ottokar II. and Rudolf of Habsburg on the Battle of Marchfeld from the castle of Kyšperk (dated to 14 th century AD and perhaps ones of the oldest relief stove tiles in Bohemia) or the molds for the making of the tiles from pre-Hussite horizon of Sezimovo Ústí.

The exhibition besides the tiles is equipped by the explanatory panels and also the models of stoves from Horosedly and Ostrov u Okrouhlé. Along with the exhibition, the museum educator Marcela Drhovská prepares the pedagogical programs for pupils and students of kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. To find out at which stove warmed the people at the time of Jan Žižka, Bohuslav ze Švamberka, Ulrich von Rosenberg and Zdeněk Lev z Rožmitálu come and see our museum. The exhibition runs until 28 th November 2013.

Copies of the splendid tiles from the palace of the archbishop of Salzburg

Photo V. Komasová

Impression of the exhibition

Photo V. Komasová

Tile with knight

Photo V. Komasová

Gothic stove tile with a motif of a fight of lion with a unicorn from Milevsko. In this motif it is possible to see the influences of the medieval legendary Letter of the Monk John, Le Roman de la Dame a la Lycorne et du biau Chevalier au Lion or it could represent the knights of the order of Lion or Unicorn – the Bavarian opponents of the Hussites and Bohemian reformation

Photo V. Komasová


Jaroslav Jiřík , Prácheňské Museum at Písek