Extremely Rare And Important Iznik ‘damascus-style’ Pottery Dish Circle Of Musli
Decorated in the ‘saz leaf and rosette’ style in shades of cobalt-blue, turquoise, manganese purple and sage green, all with thin black outlines, with saz leaves forming a central pole medallion containing scale pattern centred on four conjoined trefoils, the medallion surrounded by floral sprays and palmettes bearing saz leaves, the reverse with groups of three tulips alternating with rosettes. The present dish, in the so-called ‘Damascus style’, is an extremely rare example from the most creative and highly prized period of Iznik ceramic production. Produced between circa 1525 and 1555, these wares superceded those painted in cobalt blue and turqoise (made from copper oxide), and include sage green and manganese purple, to achieve a polychrome palette for the first time. The decoration of the present dish is attributable to the circle of master Musli (al-Din), the artist who signed his name on a mosque lamp now in the British Museum, London (inv. no. 87.5-16.1, published by Julian Raby & Nurhan Atasoy, Iznik, London 1989, col. pl. 355). The mosque lamp, dated 956 AH / 1549 AD, was almost certainly commissioned by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent for the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, is the premier documentary object of Iznik pottery. The inscription on the lamp also includes a reference to the local sufi Saint Eşrefzade Rumi and an allusion to the lake of Iznik (attesting the Iznik attribution). Further dating evidence for this group is confirmed by tiles in the mosque of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent’s vizier, Hadim Ibrahim Pasha, in Silivrikapi, Istanbul. Please see Belgin Demirsar Arli & Ara Altun, Tiles – Treasures of Anatolian Soil – Ottoman Period, Istanbul, 2008, pp. 168-69. The Musli lamp relates to three basins; two in the British Museum, London (inv. no. G.1983.67; 1983.66), and one in the Victoria and Albert Museum , London (inv. no. C.1979-1910), assigned by Julian Raby and Nurhan Atasoy to the circle of Musli (Raby&Atasoy, Iznik, 1989, p. 135). The mosque lamp and the three basins share decorative features including turquoise medallions containing black cloud bands and arabesques as well as a border of white tulips set against blue cartouchesOur dish is undoubtably from the same workshop as the three basins. Closest comparison can be made with the basin in the British Museum (inv. no. G. 1983.67) illustrated above. The palmettes on this basin are strikingly similar to the palmettes on the present dish. These palmettes in both cases are formed by a pomegranate framed by blossoms above and leaves below. The British Museum basin and our dish also share the same use of colour for the palmettes viz turqouise pomegranate, blue leaves, green blossoms. The manganese purple employed in the blossoms, is an unstable, experimental colour, firing anywhere in colour between dark purple and pink. It was superceded in the late 1550s by the well-known sealingwax red. Palmettes of this type are a major component of the saz leaf and palmette style, developed in the first half of the 16th century by the court designer Shahqulu. They can be seen on two kaftans possibly made for sons of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, now in Topkapi Palace Museum (inv. no. 13/37 and 13/529), please see Nurhan Atasoy et al, Ipek, London, 2001, pl. 22-23.
- Private French Collection, purchased in Paris in 1940’s.
- Private Spanish Collection since then.