- Gallery Text
The Ottoman dynasty established the largest Islamic empire of the early modern era. At the peak of their powers in the sixteenth century, the Ottomans built numerous large architectural projects, especially in the capital city of Istanbul. Many of the projects were designed by the renowned head architect Sinan. Ceramic tiles were part of his carefully planned interior and exterior decorations. Working with court-supplied designs, potters in the city of Iznik created some of the world’s best-known and most coveted ceramics.
Ottoman tiles of the early sixteenth century, such as the hexagonal examples here, are indebted to earlier Persian tiles in their colors and shapes. In the 1550s, Ottoman potters developed an underglaze emerald green and a bright red that yielded a powerful palette visible at a distance. These colors, along with the newly developed modular square tiles, worked well for decoration that covered great expanses of wall. Larger, single tiles were used to highlight architectural elements such as doors and windows.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- Square tile with a geometric pattern of split-leaf arabesques issuing from a central rosette
- Architectural Elements
- Work Type
- architectural element
- c. 1560
- Creation Place: Middle East, Turkey, Iznik
- Ottoman period
- Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2550, Art from Islamic Lands, The Middle East and North Africa
View this object's location on our interactive map
- Physical Descriptions
- H: 24.5 x W: 24.5 x Depth: 1.8 cm (9 5/8 x 9 5/8 x 11/16 in.)
- John Goelet, New York, NY, (by 1960), gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1960.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of John Goelet
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Asian and Mediterranean Art
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- During the second half of the sixteenth century, a great profusion of colors and motifs begins to appear in the Iznik tiles. This tile, 9 1/2 inches square, features the traditional blue and turquoise on a white slip, but a bright orange has been added. The rumi pattern spirals from one square to another and the glaze is thick, forming little mounds on the white slip. Since these tiles are identical in pattern to those framing the doorway of the famous Rustem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul (built by the architect Sinan in 1560) we may assume that they date from this period and may even have formed part of a consignment of tiles for the building.
- Publication History
Michele de Angelis and Thomas W. Lentz, Architecture in Islamic Painting: Permanent and Impermanent Worlds, brochure, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, Mass, 1982)
- Exhibition History
The Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Turkish Art at the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/16/1987 - 08/02/1987
Re-View: Arts of India & the Islamic Lands, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/26/2008 - 06/01/2013
32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050
- Subjects and Contexts
Google Art Project
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