An important massive Iznik blue and white pottery "Grape" Dish Turkey, circa 1530
Provenance: Sir Alan Barlow Collection; and by descent.
Published: Geza Fehervari, Islamic Pottery: A Comprehensive Study based on the Barlow Collection, London, 1973, no. 193, col. Pl. K.
Sultan Selim Is conquests of Tabriz in 1514, and of Damascus and Cairo in 1517, led to the acquisition of large quantities of Chinese porcelain and celadons in the Ottoman court. Iznik potters suddenly had access to a whole spectrum of designs, which they had not encountered before. Among the most popular designs were the Grape and Lotus Scroll designs, which comprise this and the following lot.
This dish is one of the best examples of its type. It is a very close copy of an early Fifteenth Century Chinese Ming original (Sir Harry Garner, Oriental blue and white, London, 1954, pl. 14). The wave border, although similar to that on Ming dishes, can actually be traced back to Fourteenth Century Yuan dishes. The potters of Iznik used the 'Grape' design longer than any other single design, and like the wave and rock border, its use continued into the 17th Century. The Iznik interpretation of the 'Grape' dish varied from the Chinese dishes also in the use of a smooth cavetto whereas the Chinese examples had moulded panels so that the floral sprays were evenly spaced. For a discussion of the combination of Yuan and early Ming designs on Iznik ceramics, see John Carswell, Iznik Pottery, London, 1998, pp. 51-53.
The Iznik potter was not restricted by the medium of high-fired porcelains, in particular the limitation of the palette to cobalt-blue. Turquoise was introduced into the Iznik colour scheme in the 1520s and used into the 17th Century. The use of turquoise with cobalt-blue is a rare combination, but is indicative of the transitional stage in Iznik production, where the potters were starting to move away from the early blue and white palette towards the coloured wares of the so-called Damascus type. Several plates with this design were made in cobalt-blue and white, although the majority incorporate turquoise.
Further examples of Grape dishes of this period are in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; a private collection, Istanbul; the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Museum, Lisbon; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, London and New York, 1989, nos. 183 to 187 incl.); the Benaki Museum, Athens (Pottery of Asia Minor, Athens, 1969, pl. 1); the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar (John Carswell, Iznik Pottery for the Ottoman Empire, London, 2003, no. 5); and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Esin Atil, The Age of Sultan Suleyman The Magnificent, New York, Washington D.C., 1987, p. 251, no. 173).