The ceramics of Iznik are amongst the finest ever produced and have long been sought after by discerning Western Collectors. Nowadays they command very high prices. The classical period lasted for a short century - from the late 15th century until towards the end of the 16th century. The technical quality of the work is superb; the sense of design often free and imaginative; and the use of colour immediate and dramatic. There are excellent examples in main museums throughout the world.
Iznik is a small town at the end of a 20-mile lake north-west Anatolia. The ceramic industry was established following the consolidation of power by the Turkish Sultans in Istanbul and it was much patronised by the Court. Many of the magnificent tiles for the mosques of the Ottoman empire were produced in Iznik and Kutahya as well as plates, vases and bowls for domestic use. Successive stylistic phases reflect changes in Ottoman taste over the period. Starting with the elaborate blue and white arabesque style of the late 15th century and gradually developing into the bold and vibrant naturalism of the second half of the 16th century, the decorative repertoire of the potters included a period when Iznik pottery was influenced by Chinese Ming blue-and-white porcelain, which was much prized by the Sultans.
The colour range widened. The cobalt blue and white designs of the early period were progressively supplemented by the introduction of turquoise, shades of green and aubergine and finally the famous coral red of the mid 16th century.
Kutahya - some two hundred miles inland - was the second centre in the development of Ottoman ceramics. It's tradition began as early as the 13th century following occupation by the Seljuk Turks, when black-worked motifs on a turquoise background were widespread.
A number of modern craftsman in Turkey have dedicated themselves to a revival of the ancient traditions of Ottoman ceramics and have succeeded in rediscovering many of the secrets of materials, glazing and colouring which have been lost for three hundred years. They are producing near perfect examples of the original designs, hand painted in individual ateliers following the ancient tradition.
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