Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Islamic Ceramics

A select catalogue of the Ashmolean's collection of ceramics from the Islamic world from the 9th to 18th century, by James Allen (published Oxford, 1991).

Islamic ceramics, by James W. Allan

Publications online: 46 objects

Reference URL

Actions

Send e-mail

Contact us about this object

Send e-mail

Send to a friend

Dish with peony blooms

  • Literature notes

    The naturalistic painting of tulips, carnations and other flowers never completely ousted the earlier designs and colour schemes of Iznik ceramics, as this delightful dish shows. The combination of blue and white, the large peony blooms, and the lotus-panel arcading all derive from Chinese art, which had so influenced designs in the second quarter of the century. To this rich artistic source the potters periodically returned for their inspiration.

    The overall impression is of a fluid and free movement of stems and ears of wheat. In truth, however the design has been very carefully planned. At its heart is a pointed oval shape formed by the two main stems of the plant. The two large peony blooms balance one another on either side of this oval, and the smaller peony above is balanced by the ear of wheat next to it. The fluidity of the design is in fact due largely to the curving entry of the main stem and the positioning and sizes of the four ears of wheat in front of, and either side of it: a very subtle and very charming piece if design.

    Historically, this dish and others like it are of considerable interest. For in the 1570’s Francesco de’ Medici, Duke of Tuscany, was experimenting with making imitation porcelain. In 1575 the Venetian Ambassador to Florence wrote that the Duke ‘has equalled its quality – its transparency, hardness, lightness and delicacy; it has taken him ten years to discover the secret, but a Levantine showed him the way to success.’ The fact that several pieces of Medici porcelain have stylistic affinities to the wheatsheaf style, and that technically both Medici porcelain and Iznik use a quartz or sand body with a small portion of clay, suggests that the Levantine might well have come from Iznik itself, bringing with him the secrets of the Iznik potteries.


    [Bibliographic references:]
    N. Atasoy and J. Raby, Iznik. The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey (London 1989) p.268.
  • Details

    Associated place
    Asia Turkey (place of creation)
    AsiaTurkeyMarmara Bölgesi (Marmara) Region Iznik (probable place of creation)
    Date
    c. 1575
    Ottoman Period (1281 - 1924)
    Material and technique
    fritware, with underglaze painting in blue
    Dimensions
    7 cm (height)
    35.9 cm (diameter)
    Material index
    Technique index
    coveredcoated glazed,
    Object type index
    No. of items
    1
    Credit line
    Gift of Gerald Reitlinger, 1978.
    Accession no.
    EA1978.1455
  • Further reading

    Allan, James W., Islamic Ceramics, Ashmolean-Christie's Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1991), no. 48 on p. 74, illus. p. 75

    Carswell, John, ‘C'est la Gare!’, James Allan, ed., Islamic Art in the Ashmolean Museum, Part One, Oxford Studies in Islamic Art, 10 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), x.1, passim, illus. pp. 100, 101, & 106 figs 1, 2, & 9

    Atasoy, Nurhan, and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, ed. Yanni Petsopoulos (London: Alexandria Press in association with Laurence King, 1994), no. 460, illus. p. 242 fig. 460

Glossary (2)

fritware, underglaze painting

  • fritware

    Ceramic material composed of ground quartz and small quantities of clay and finely ground frit (frit is obtained by pouring molten glass into water).

  • underglaze painting

    Painting applied to ceramic material before a transparent, or monochrome or coloured glaze for Islamic objects, is applied. The technique was initially developed in China.

Location

    • currently in research collection

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.

 

Publications online

  • Islamic ceramics, by James W. Allan

    Islamic Ceramics

    The naturalistic painting of tulips, carnations and other flowers never completely ousted the earlier designs and colour schemes of Iznik ceramics, as this delightful dish shows. The combination of blue and white, the large peony blooms, and the lotus-panel arcading all derive from Chinese art, which had so influenced designs in the second quarter of the century. To this rich artistic source the potters periodically returned for their inspiration.

    The overall impression is of a fluid and free movement of stems and ears of wheat. In truth, however the design has been very carefully planned. At its heart is a pointed oval shape formed by the two main stems of the plant. The two large peony blooms balance one another on either side of this oval, and the smaller peony above is balanced by the ear of wheat next to it. The fluidity of the design is in fact due largely to the curving entry of the main stem and the positioning and sizes of the four ears of wheat in front of, and either side of it: a very subtle and very charming piece if design.

    Historically, this dish and others like it are of considerable interest. For in the 1570’s Francesco de’ Medici, Duke of Tuscany, was experimenting with making imitation porcelain. In 1575 the Venetian Ambassador to Florence wrote that the Duke ‘has equalled its quality – its transparency, hardness, lightness and delicacy; it has taken him ten years to discover the secret, but a Levantine showed him the way to success.’ The fact that several pieces of Medici porcelain have stylistic affinities to the wheatsheaf style, and that technically both Medici porcelain and Iznik use a quartz or sand body with a small portion of clay, suggests that the Levantine might well have come from Iznik itself, bringing with him the secrets of the Iznik potteries.


    [Bibliographic references:]
    N. Atasoy and J. Raby, Iznik. The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey (London 1989) p.268.
Notice

Object information may not accurately reflect the actual contents of the original publication, since our online objects contain current information held in our collections database. Click on 'buy this publication' to purchase printed versions of our online publications, where available, or contact the Jameel Study Centre to arrange access to books on our collections that are now out of print.

© 2013 University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum