Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections
Soldiers were a common sight in the Netherlands during the first half of the seventeenth century, and swaggering warriors such as those seen here became a favorite decoration on Dutch tiles. These exceptional tiles are masterfully painted in blue with black outlines and forceful details of orange and green; the Saracen archers wear turbans, billowing scarves, and caftans, while the Roman warriors sport plumed helmets, flowing sashes, and cuirasses. The figures are simplified variations of those conceived by the Netherlandish artist Hendrick Goltzius for his series of eight engravings entitled "The Roman Heroes" (c. 1586). However, although the warriors' costumes closely follow this model, the exotic dress of the archers is a departure from Goltzius's original. Many of the tiles produced between 1580 and 1625 were decorated with a repeat pattern composed of sixteen tiles that formed wall panels, but the absence of corner motifs on these examples indicate that they were made for use as baseboards. Ella Schaap, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 129.