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A LARGE IZNIK BLUE AND WHITE POTTERY DISH
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A LARGE IZNIK BLUE AND WHITE POTTERY DISH

OTTOMAN TURKEY, CIRCA 1535

Details
A LARGE IZNIK BLUE AND WHITE POTTERY DISH
OTTOMAN TURKEY, CIRCA 1535
With cusped sloping rim on short foot, the interior painted in two shades of cobalt-blue after the Yuan porcelain original with central cusped roundel containing scrolling tendrils issuing lotus flowerheads, the cavetto with alternating floral sprays, the rim with stylized wave and rock designs, the exterior with similar alternating floral sprays to those in the cavetto, minute rim chips, small chip to foot
15¾in. (40cm.) diam.
Provenance
William James, to his son
Edward James, West Dean Park
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Lot Essay

The striking blue colour of this dish and the drawing makes it one of the finest Iznik examples after a Chinese prototype. Yuan and Ming porcelains had been exported to the Muslim world in quantity for centuries and collections existed in Tabriz and Cairo. When these cities were absorbed into the Ottoman empire in 1514 and 1517, Chinese wares made their way into the Topkapi Palace Collections. Today there are a number of early fifteenth century blue and white dishes in the Topkapi of this and very closely related designs, three of which are particularly close (Regina Krahl: Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, London, 1986, nos.601-603, pp.512-513). From the late 1520s onwards Iznik potters began imitating Chinese porcelains using the great Yuan and early Ming porcelains of the 14th and 15th century for inspiration.

The very first Iznik potters followed the Yuan and Ming design motifs very closely and somtimes motifs from both the Yuan and Ming periods were used together on the same dish as can be seen in this example. The wave-and-rock design is a 14th century Yuan motif (Krahl, op.cit, nos.552-562, pp.489-492), that was popular with Iznik potters and can be seen used here combined with a 15th century floral scroll design. An almost identical central floral scroll and cavetto can be seen on an Iznik dish in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon (inv.no.859, Maria Queiroz Ribeiro: Iznik Pottery, Lisbon, 1996, no.26, pp.136-7). Another almost identical dish to that is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby: Iznik, the Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, London, 1989, pl.199, p.122). The border design however of those examples is different from ours. A closer composition comparison is seen in a dish in the Freer Gallery of Art (Atasoy and Raby: op.cit, pl.200, p.123). The present dish has very similar drawing of the central medallion scrollwork to the Boston and Freer dishes, including the small S-motifs overlaying the stems, it is slightly bigger than both those examples although the Gulbenkian dish is slightly bigger again. Everything demonstrates that this is one of the earliest dishes modelled on a Yuan and Ming prototype; indeed the breaking wave motif in our example is closer to the original Yuan design than the Freer Gallery example and more likely to have been directly copied from those Chinese wares finding their way into the Topkapi Palace Collection in the 1520s.
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