AN IZNIK POTTERY RIMLESS ‘GRAPE’ DISH, TURKEY, CIRCA 1570-80
painted in shades of cobalt blue and dark green with a central roundel containing three large bunches of grapes within spiralling tendrils issuing ﬂeshy leaves, cavetto with stylised palmettes and geometric border, the underside with collection label
Two breaks in edge with associated restoration, including overpainting, hairline crack in glaze through grapes, four drill holes in foot, one now broken, another that set off a hairline crack, as viewed.
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Iznik grape dishes tell an interesting story about the cross-cultural pollination between Chinese and Ottoman art. Yuan (1279-1368) and Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) blue and white porcelain became particularly desirable at the Ottoman court, inspiring craftsmen to produce imitations, or rather, their own variations of this popular model.
The important number of Chinese blue and white ceramic examples held in the Topkapi Palace testify to this fashion (see R. Krahl, Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Museum, Istanbul, vol.II, London, 1986, nos.605-6). Iznik potters may have seen these pieces directly or certainly had access to drawings or pounce designs which they assimilated into their own visual vocabulary. The present grape dish belongs to the second wave of grape dish design, in which the potters seem to emancipate themselves, removing the Yuan period breaking-wave border and introducing a new colour - deep green.
As the grape represented a popular subject, we are fortunate that a number of examples have survived and are in museums, institutions and private collections worldwide, displaying the diversity of designs used in the rendering of the grapes, vines and borders, although grape dishes with cavetto designs such as this are rarer. For a discussion on these, see Atasoy and Raby 1989, pp.121-4, cat. nos.189-192.
Comparable rimless examples, some with touches of green, can be seen at the Çinili Köşk, Istanbul (inv. no.41/24) the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no.52.1.18), Omer Koc Collection (Bilgi 2009, cat. nos.163 and 164).
This lively synthesis of decorative elements from different periods and sources, matched by technical innovations such as an increasing range of colours fired under the glaze, is indicative of the bold experimentation found in Iznik ware, of which this is a fine example.