From the late 17th century to the mid 18th century, many of the Dutch tile makers produced tiles with the painting depicting the Old and New Testament biblical stories. These tiles were either painted in cobalt blue or manganese on a white background, with the scene usually enclosed in a central roundel.
The tiles, which were most popular in the rural areas of Holland, France, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark were made in incalculable amounts and variations, and were used both as a reflection of the faith of the household, and as a learning tool for the children to learn the biblical stories, and their religion. They were generally installed in the main room as a fireplace surround, where the family would sit in the evening, enjoying the warmth of the fire and discussing the biblical scenes.
The painting of the tiles ranged from the very naïve, to the very detailed and sophisticated artistry. Among the most sought after of the biblical tiles are those that depicted the expulsion from Eden of Adam and Eve, and the animals boarding the ark, "two by two." Today, there is a strong renewal in the interest in these wonderful small paintings, and many homes are being decorated with these early biblical tiles, both in fireplace surrounds and decorative walls.