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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
Tile Panel with Decoration of Composite Flowers and Serrated Leaves
Architectural Elements
Work Type
architectural element
c. 1570
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
Underglaze painted composite body
Underglazed, painted
39.3 x 67.5 x 2.5 cm (15 1/2 x 26 9/16 x 1 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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Publication History

Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, 1, July 1983, Pg. 1

Walter B. Denny and Aileen Ribeiro, Court and Conquest: Ottoman Origins and the Design for Handel's Tamerlano at the Glimmerglass Opera, exh. cat., Kent State University Museum (Kent State, OH, 1999), page 38/figure 36

Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 84

Exhibition History

Arabesque, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/01/1990 - 03/24/1991

Woven, Hammered, and Thrown: Textiles and Objects from the Islamic World, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 06/22/1991 - 08/18/1991

Pattern and Purpose. Decorative Arts of Islam., Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/19/1994 - 07/03/1994

Court and Conquests, Ottoman Origins and the Designs for Handel's "Tamerlano" at the Glimmerglass Opera, Equitable Gallery, New York, 11/18/1998 - 01/23/1999; Kent State University Museum, Kent, 02/17/1999 - 04/25/1999

A Grand Legacy: Arts of the Ottoman Empire, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 10/09/1999 - 01/02/2000

The Enlightened Eye: Gifts from John Goelet, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/12/2000 - 05/07/2000

Overlapping Realms: Arts of the Islamic World and India, 900-1900, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 12/02/2006 - 03/23/2008

32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

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