Description & Technical information

This underglaze fritware tile is painted in polychrome on a white slip. It has tomato red borders on the long sides, framing a composition of undulating flowers and leaves on a turquoise background. The flowers and leaves, outlined in black, also make of use colours including tomato red and turquoise, as well as dark cobalt blue.

This border tile belonged to a tile composition that was probably used to decorate the imperial palace at Edirne, north-west of Istanbul. An example of this tile can be found at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (428-1900), where it formed part of a tall, thin panel with a central design depicting a niche filled with floral and arabesque scrollwork on the white ground. The top half of the V&A panel, with same border tiles like ours, is now in the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection, Lisbon (Ribeiro, 2009, Cat. 78, pp.128-9).

After the imperial court renewed its patronage of Iznik ceramics for the construction of Süleymaniye mosque between 1550 and 1557, using tile revetment to decorate buildings became fashionable in the mid-16th century for Ottoman elites. For example, the Ottoman admiral Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa (better known as Barbarossa) commissioned the Çinili Hamam (the Tiled Bathhouse) and employed the famous court architect Sinan (d.1588) to design the bathhouse, and possibly the royal workshop for the tile patterns. The intricate designs of tile patterns were made to emulate manuscript paintings, meant to be savoured from a close distance. 

Lane, Arthur. A Guide to the Collection of Tiles, London, 1960, p.21.
Ribeiro, Maria Queiroz. Iznik Pottery and Tiles in the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2009.

Stock no.: A5414

Date:  1570-1574
Period:  16th cnetury
Origin:  Ottoman Turkey
Medium: Ceramic decorated with underglaze polychrome
Dimensions: 30.5 x 11 cm (12 x 4³/₈ inches)
Provenance: Provenance: European private collection

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints