N° 40
Large dish

Turkey
Iznik
Ottoman dynasty, second quarter of 16th century
Stanniferous earthenware
ø36 cm
Sèvres, National Museum of Ceramics
(MC 22692)

This large dish, fashioned in silicious terra-cotta, was covered with a creamy white slip. The turquoise decoration was painted under a lead glaze.

It belongs to a group remarkable for its strong Chinese influence, which is as palpable in the form (flat bottom, sweeping sides, and large size) as it is in the decoration - coiled grape vine with three bunches of grapes; waves, curls of sea foam, and breakers ornamenting the rim.

The Chinese porcelains on which it was modelled were in fashion in Beijing in the early 15th century. It was precisely at this period, in 1419, that Shah Ruh, one of Tamerlane's sons, dispatched an ambassador to Emperor Yongle. Under the Safavid, a veritable production process for "blue and white" wares was established.

Furthermore, we know that Suleyman the Magnificent (1520~6) used Chinese porcelain tableware on a daily basis. He inherited this practice from his predecessor Selim I (1512-20) who carried off 62 objects of Chinese porcelain in his war booty after his victory over Shah Isma'il in 1514. He is also said to have entrusted the task of building a cînahâne, a kind of treasure house for storing these porcelains, to his prestigious architect Sinan.

The favour of the sultans, combined with the massive exports of the Ming, explains this new taste for Chinese porcelain that resulted in these attractive copies.

Jean-Paul Desroches