Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.48
Title
Bowl with Foliate Arabesque on Rim
Classification
Vessels
Work Type
vessel
Date
Safavid period, AH 907-1145 / CE 1501-1732 or later
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/165396
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Grayish fritware covered in white slip, with pierced, incised, and carved design under clear alkali glaze
Technique
Underglazed, painted
Dimensions
9.7 x 26.9 cm (3 13/16 x 10 9/16 in.)
Provenance
[Mansour Gallery, London, 1972], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (1972-2002), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Accession Year
2002
Object Number
2002.50.48
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
A graceful foliate arabesque band, composed of twelve separate S curves terminating in five-lobed palmettes, runs just below the rim on the interior of this bowl. This decoration is subtly rendered with pierced dots and incised lines that reveal the grayish body of the bowl beneath its white slip coating. A clear glaze fills the piercings and covers the entire vessel with the exception of the concave base. Assigning this bowl to the eighteenth or nineteenth century runs counter to the results of the thermoluminescence analysis which suggest modern manufacture. The earlier dating is proposed for two reasons: first, the existence of two vessels acquired in Iran in the late nineteenth or very early twentieth century that also feature a decorative play between a grayish ceramic fabric and a white slip, and second, the fact that thermoluminescence is generally not as reliable for dating early modern ceramics as it is for medieval or ancient material. Despite numerous cracks, this bowl is intact.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
49

Bowl with foliate arabesque on rim
Iran, Safavid period or later, 18th–19th century[1]
Grayish fritware covered in white slip, with pierced, incised, and carved design under clear alkali glaze
9.7 × 26.9 cm (3 13/16 × 10 9/16 in.)
2002.50.48

A graceful foliate arabesque band, composed of twelve separate S curves terminating in five-lobed palmettes, runs just below the rim on the interior of this bowl. This decoration is subtly rendered with pierced dots and incised lines that reveal the grayish body of the bowl beneath its white slip coating. A clear glaze fills the piercings and covers the entire vessel with the exception of the concave base.

Assigning this bowl to the eighteenth or nineteenth century runs counter to the results of the thermoluminescence analysis noted below, which suggest modern manufacture. The earlier dating is proposed for two reasons: first, the existence of two vessels acquired in Iran in the late nineteenth or very early twentieth century that also feature a decorative play between a grayish ceramic fabric and a white slip,2 and second, the fact that thermoluminescence is generally not as reliable for dating early modern ceramics as it is for medieval or ancient material.3 Despite numerous cracks, this bowl is intact.

Mary McWilliams

[1] The bowl was last fired within the past 100 years, according to the results of thermoluminescence analysis carried out by Oxford Authentication Ltd. in 2004.
[2] These objects, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, are a basin with pierced walls (463-1874) and a globular vessel with incised decoration imitating Chinese blue-and-white ware (1362-1901). Perhaps related to this group is a “baluster vase” attributed to seventeenth-century Iran: see Christie’s 2010, lot 217. No production site is yet known for the group.
[3] See Bassett 2007.

Publication History

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), p. 201, cat. 49, ill.

Exhibition History

In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu