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AN IMPORTANT 'DAMASCUS-STYLE' IZNIK POTTERY DISH
AN IMPORTANT 'DAMASCUS-STYLE' IZNIK POTTERY DISH
AN IMPORTANT 'DAMASCUS-STYLE' IZNIK POTTERY DISH
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These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION
AN IMPORTANT 'DAMASCUS-STYLE' IZNIK POTTERY DISH

ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE 'MASTER OF THE HYACINTHS', OTTOMAN TURKEY, CIRCA 1555

Details
AN IMPORTANT 'DAMASCUS-STYLE' IZNIK POTTERY DISH
ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE 'MASTER OF THE HYACINTHS', OTTOMAN TURKEY, CIRCA 1555
With cusped sloping rim on short foot, the white ground painted in cobalt-blue, turquoise, sage-green, manganese and grey with a bold floral spray composed of two large flowerheads issuing from a leafy frond, branches of hyacinth blossom and curved saz leaves in a near-symmetrical arrangement, the rim with a stylised 'wave and rock' design, exterior with bunches of tulips alternated with rosettes, repaired breaks
14in. (35.6cm.) diam.
Provenance
Charles Gillet and thence by descent to present owner
Special Notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Lot Essay

Iznik ceramics with the rare colour combination seen here of blue, green, turquoise and manganese were originally thought to have been produced in Damascus. Many tiles were produced in the Ottoman Levant in the 16th century with the same repertoire of colours and with similar vegetal and floral designs. The Ottoman Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent (r.1520-66), commissioned the refurbishment of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The exterior walls were covered with tiles and the interior was decorated with hanging lamps. In the 19th century a large hanging lamp was found in Jerusalem. Now in the British Museum that lamp was signed by an artist called Musli and dated AH 956/1549-50 AD, (Inv. ME OA 1887.5-16.1; Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik, the Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, London, 1989, figs. 239 & 355). The lamp was also inscribed with verses in praise of a Sufi Saint, Eshrefzada Rumi and carried a reference to Lake Iznik confirming that it was produced there rather than in Damascus.

Julian Raby has suggested that the lamp signed by Musli and a number of other related vessels were produced by a workshop which he refers to as ‘one of the premier workshops in Iznik’, (Atasoy and
Raby, op.cit., p.135). Amongst the pieces produced by the workshop were a number of dishes closely related to our dish. These he attributes to an artist he termed ‘The Master of Hyacinths’. As defined by Raby the dishes produced by this artist illustrate a crucial transitional style in the designs of Iznik. The key elements include the use of the Chinese-inspired wave and rock design rim in conjunction with a typically Ottoman floral centre. Previously the wave and rock design had been limited to use on dishes imitating purely Chinese inspired designs. The idea of symmetrical floral sprays was also introduced. Our dish is evidence of this transition to a symmetrical design, as the design elements are balanced on both sides of the dish but stylised rosettes are still juxtaposed against leafy palmettes in what has not yet become an exact mirrored design. The framing of the floral design by curved braches of hyacinths found here is echoed on a dish attributed by Raby to the ‘Master of Hyacinths’, (Atasoy and Raby, op.cit., fig.256). The large overlapping rosette and palmette on the upper half of our dish is closely related to a dish with a similar design in the Gulbenkian collection which Raby also attributes to the artist and dates to circa 1555-60, (Atasoy and Raby, op.cit., fig.259, illustrated in colour, inv.no.823, published Maria Queiroz Ribeiro, Iznik Pottery, Lisbon, 1996, no.13, pp.116-17). A dish in the British Museum illustrates the next stage of this transitional period in which the decoration has become fully symmetrical but like our dish maintains the curved braches of hyacinths that frame the design, (Inv. G. 1983.21; Esin Atil, The Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, New York, 1987, fig.185, p.262).

This dish represents a very short period of production in the history of Iznik before it emerges into the ‘Rhodian wares’ of the 1560’s and 70’s. The limited production period of these wares makes it exceptional to find a dish attributable to ‘The Master of Hyacinths’ still in private hands. Another ‘Damascus-Style’ Iznik dish was sold at Goya Subastas, Madrid, 19 December 2011, lot 245.
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