Art/ Collection/ Art Object


Attributed to the pottery of David II Pfau (1644–1702)
Possibly assisted by Hans Heinrich III Pfau (1672–1714)
Decoration after designs by Tobias Stimmer (Swiss, Schaffhausen 1539–1584 Strasbourg)
and Christoph Murer (Swiss, Zurich 1558–1614 Winterthur)
ca. 1684–85
Swiss, Winterthur
Faience (tin-glazed earthenware)
Overall (confirmed): 10 ft. 4 in. × 54 1/4 in. × 71 1/4 in. (315 × 137.8 × 181 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1906
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 505
This colorful, large, ceramic stove was made for the paneled room in which it still stands, the Reiche Stübe, or "Rich Room," of the Schlössli (Little Castle), a manor house built in 1682 for Johann Gaudenz von Capol (1641–1723), a member of the leading family of Flims, in the Protestant canton of Grisons in eastern Switzerland. Stoves were common in alpine regions, where the bitter cold of winter was unrelieved for months at a time. They provided continuous radiant heat, facilitated by the white reflecting surface of the tiles. The enclosed fire both conserved wood fuel and removed the danger of smoke and sparks common with open fires.

Made in Winterthur, an important Swiss center for faience, these tiles are painted on all sides with figures from the New Testament and stories from the Old Testament. In the lower section the faience painter used designs by Tobias Stimmer (1539–1584) published in Basel in 1576, while those decorating the upper sections were inspired by the etchings of Christoph Murer (1558–1614) published in Strasbourg in 1625. The painter added biblical references above each scene and commentaries below, finding a teaching or message for contemporary Christians in the biblical events. For example, the commentary beneath the scene of Samson and the lion reads, "As Samson's lion gave honey after his death, so Christ's death brings us sweet life." It has been suggested that the pottery of David II Pfau (1644–1702) of Winterthur may have designed and produced the stove with the help of his cousin Hans Heinrich III Pfau.
Inscription: On body of stove:
1. Ein Leiter Jacob sicht biss an den Himmel reichen. Christi zukunft ins fleisch bedeüt diss geistlich zeichen (Trans.: Jacob sees a ladder reaching to heaven: this spiritual sign foretells Christ's future (life) in flesh [Gen. Chap. 28]).
2. Schau wie Rebecca hie diss Abrahams Knecht ehret. Dem der Gott förchtet wirdt ein Frome Weib bescheeret. (Trans.: Behold here how Rebecca honors Abraham's serving-man: on him who seeks God, a pious wife is bestowed [Gen. Chap. 24]).
3. Den Abraham verheist Gott einen jungen Ehrben. Gastfrey ein Mittel ist Gotts Gegen zu erwerben (Trans.: God promises to Abraham a young heir: Hospitality is a means to gain God's favor [Gen. Chap. 18]).
4. Hier Vatter und der Sohn ein schwere prob ausstehen. Wo bey ein Vorbild wir dess opfers Christi sehen. (Trans.: Here father and son undergo a severe test: whereby we see a symbol of Christ's sacrifice [Gen. Chap. 22]).
5. Wie dorten Samsons Löw nach seim tod honig geben. Also auch Christ tod bringt uns das susse leben. (Trans.: As Samson's lion gave honey after his death: so Christ's death brings us sweet life [Judges Chap. 14]).
6. Lass sich von Gotts befehl nicht leicht abwendig machen. Wilt nicht dem Hellen-Löw gerahten in dem Rachen. (Trans.: Do not depart lightly from God's commandment. (Then) you will not fall into the throat of the lion of Hell [I Kings Chap. 13]).

On chimney:
1. Wie wunderlich auch Gott die seinen könne speisen. Mit sein exempel diss Elias.. beweisen. (Trans.: How wonderfully God can feed his own: With his example Elias can prove this).
2. Der kleine Hirt schlagt den, den allen macht ein schrenken. In kleinen Leib kan offt ein dappfer Hertze stecken. (Trans.: The little shepherd slays him whom all fear. In a small body there may ofter be a courageous heart [I Samuel Chap. 17]).
3. Die Fromen müssen offt mit Gott in nöhten ringen. Standhafftig kämpffen macht den Gig uns davon bringen. (Trans.: The pious must often wrestle with God in time of need: To fight with steadfast strength brings us victory [Gen. Chap. 32)]).
4. Es stirbet Abraham, satt alters und der tagen. Gott lass auch unser Seel in Seine Schooss hin tragen. (Trans.: Abraham dies, full of years: may God also take our soul into his protection [Gen. Chap. 25]).
5. Fur Seine brüder aus Gott, David angesehen. Was gringt ist vor der Aelt das wil Gott nicht verschniehen. (Trans.: David is chosen by God from among his brothers. What is slight in the eyes of the world, God will not scorn [I Samuel Chap. 16]).
6. Wan offt der man ihm selbst ein unglück thut auf laden. Ein kluges Weib verhutt und wendet seinen schaden. (Trans.: Often when a man burdens himself with an unfortunate deed, a clever woman protects (him) and turns the misfortune in another direction [I Samuel Chap. 25]).
Johann Gaudenz von Capol (from 1682) ; by descent to Marie von Capol ; Hercules Dietegen von Salis-Seewis ; Johann Parli ; Captain Mattli-Bavier ; Mrs. von Sprengel ; Dr. Rybeck ; Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (1884–1906; sold through Dr. Julius Lessing to MMA)
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