On the study of folk stove-building: stove relief
Source document: . Středověké a novověké zdroje tradiční kultury : sborník příspěvků ze semináře konaného 30. listopadu 2005 v Ústavu evropské etnologie. Editor: Křížová, Alena. Vyd. 1. Brno: Ústav evropské etnologie Masarykovy univerzity, 2006, pp. -183
In the 18th century and especially immediately thereafter, the tiled stove entered folk dwellings in Moravia via the mansion and the rural town. Over time it became a feature of the majority of village homes, and its introduction was an important milestone in the development of home heating. In the later 19th century a dominant feature of the tiled stove was a decorative extension piece which took the form of an animal in relief. The work of the potter included the producing of tiles and decorative additions, and stove-building. Stove-building did not become a trade in its own right until the later 19th century, at which time it became subject to the powerful influence of factory-produced ceramics. The general availability of more modern sources of heating which emerged after the First World War resulted in the decline and eventual disappearance of stove-building as a trade. In the times when hand-built stoves were part of living memory, museums did not document systematically developments in their production. Stoves perhaps provoked little interest because of the relative lack of attractiveness they shared with many aspects of everyday life. This reason alone serves to amplify the importance of a unique collection of 230 items of relief work which adorned the finest tiled stoves; this can be found in the Ethnographical Institute of the Moravian Provincial Museum in Brno. At the core of this collection are the 192 objects from the provinces of Moravia accumulated by Brno physician Antonín Novotný. The relief work which has come down to us, in which animal figures (lions, rams, cats, dogs, swans, eagles, birds, hens, cocks, etc.) predominate, presents us with a peculiar echo of the styles and models of this art. This is seen most strikingly in the decorative vases which are very rustic in design, clear examples of which were conjoined with classicist and Empire stoves. The surface finish of this relief work ensures it is in tune with the other tiles on the stove. It was either glazed or else its engobe surface was covered with a splashed or spotted decoration. The potter would then apply his own finishing touches, investing the work with a craftsman's originality. Tiled stoves were produced in all centres of pottery production in Moravia, as is confirmed by the presence of museum exhibits from Vyškov, Znojmo and the ceramics workshops of south-east and west Moravia. On the basis of the relief work which survives, the fragmentary reports of witnesses of the craft, and brief descriptions of provincial interiors in Moravia in the later 19th century, it is impossible to separate with any exactitude the producer from his work, which would facilitate the identification of regional characteristics. Relief work on stoves is a unique and hitherto little known form of folk art, which is without doubt deserving of further study with a view to expanding our knowledge of the traditional craft of stove-building on this territory.
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