İznik Tile Panel
This İznik panel exemplifies the most splendid period of Ottoman ceramic production, for it is identical to the tiles found on the walls of the Has Oda (“privy chamber”) in the harem section of the Topkapı Palace. The design is dominated by lotus palmettes and serrated saz leaves painted in blue and red against a solid white background. There are also Chinese-inspired curving cloud bands painted in thick red pigment with green leaves.
The Ottoman Sultan Murad III had commissioned İznik tiles for the refurbishment of the Has Oda after a fire broke out there in 1574.1 According to an imperial order dating to 1575, the Sultan ordered the tiles to be made by the tile-master Mehmed in İznik.2 By 1578-79 the Sultan’s private room was rebuilt by the renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan and redecorated with the tiles. Spare tiles left over from this project were later used to decorate other imperial buildings.
Except for the tiles in the Sultan’s suite of rooms and a few reassembled panels housed in the Chamber of the Holy Relics, the majority of the decorations in the Topkapı Palace are dated to the seventeenth century because many of its best revetments had perished in fires or were relocated to the nearby Sultan Ahmed Mosque.3
The Metropolitan Museum in New York has a similar İznik tile in its collection (Accession Number: 02.5.91). The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon also has a panel composed of 40 tiles which appears to come from this same collection (Accession Number: 1679).4
1. See photograph in, Walter B. Denny. 2004. Iznik: The Artistry of Ottoman Ceramics. London: Thames and Hudson. p.109.
2. Belgin Demirsar Arlı and Ara Altun. 2008. Tiles: Treasures of Anatolian Soil: Volume 2, Ottoman Period. İstanbul: Kale Group Cultural Publications. p. 105.
3. Denny, 2004: 114.
4. See, Maria d’Orey Capucho Queiroz Ribeiro. 2009. Iznik Pottery and Tiles in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian. pp.122-23.