“Wildman” stove tile
German Germany, “Wildman” stove tile, ca. 1480, Earthenware with lead glaze; 22.2 x 10.8 x 3.5 cm (8 13/16 x 4 5/16 x 1 3/8 inches), Gift of Leopold Blumka 48.445
This tile shows a shaggy, club-wielding Wildman, a symbol of lust and aggression from secular medieval art. A creature born of artistic imagination, the Wildman’s rugged body represents both the good and evil inherent in human nature. In his uncivilized state, Man’s raw force is violent but untainted by greed or jealousy. A representation of Wildman’s boundless strength was thought to scare away demons, so the figure often appeared on architecture and decorative objects. This tile is from a ceramic wood-burning stove built entirely from concave molded-earthenware rectangles. These stoves were widely used in northern Europe during the fifteenth century.