The motif of a prunus blossom tree with tulips growing from a group of serrated leaves at its base is found on tilework of the first half of the 16th century (Folsach, K.v.: Islamic Art - The David Collection, Copenhagen, 1990, no.182, pp.124-5). With the introduction of the 'Rhodian' palette, examples were made that placed the group on green and red grounds as well as the blue that was already known. Dating is given by two tiles which use a red ground; the first in the Selimye Mosque in Edirne dates from 1571, while a poorer example is found in the mosque of Takkeci Ibrahim Agha of 1591. (Atasoy and Raby: op.cit., p.254).
Within the dishes, two distinct cartoons are found. One has two tulips while the other, as here, has five. All the dishes have the narrow rim, typical of the period of Murad II, found here. The use of cartoons in the designs of dishes as well as tilework is well attested throughout the century (Denny, Walter: 'Turkish Ceramics and Turkish Painting' in Essays in Islamic Art and Architecture in Honour of Katharina Otto-Dorn, 1981, pp.29-35). Originally these cartoons were prepared by the imperial nakkashhane, but by the time these dishes were produced it seems more probable that they were made locally; the style is more that of the potters as shown on other pieces of the period. Three published examples, in addition to the present lot, survive whose design comes from the same cartoon. One, with a red ground, was sold in these Rooms, 17 October 1995, lot 310, a second, also with red ground, is in the British Museum (Rogers, J.M. and Ward, R.M.: Süleyman the Magnificent, exhibition catalogue, London,1988, no.153, p.207), while the third with blue ground is in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Museum, Lisbon (Ribeiro, Maria Queiroz: Iznik Pottery, Lisbon, 1996, no.97, pp.264-265). Another dish in the Gulbenkian collection uses the other cartoon variant for the central design, but has exactly the same border and colouration as is found here (Ribeiro, op.cit, no.96, pp.262-3).