An Iznik Blue and White Pottery Bottle Vase, Ottoman Turkey, Circa 1510

Rising from short foot through drop-shaped body to tapering neck, the body decorated with a white strapwork lattice terminating at the neck with vertical points, around the body the lattice forming ogival motifs each with a floral spray on blue ground, around the foot a band of elaborate paired cloud-motifs on white ground, cut at the neck, with small drill holes around the neck, foot slightly chipped
10¾in. (27.4cm.) high - Estimate £80,000 - £120,000

Notes: "Sometime towards the end of the 15th-century Ottoman potters started manufacturing blue-and-white ceramics of a technical standard unmatched in the Muslim world since the early thirteenth century pottery of Kashan. The vessels, often of impressive size, had a hard, dense fritware body covered with a brilliant white slip, onto which were painted elaborate arabesques and floral scrolls in a rich cobalt which had depth and texture - the 'heap and piled' effect - of the first Yuan blue-and-white porcelains from China. Over this was a compact, colourless glaze which adhered tightly to the body and showed no flaws of crackle and tendency to pool". Thus Julian Raby introduces the highly innovative wares that began to be made at Iznik at this time (Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik, the Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, London, 1989, p.77). His summary of the developments that took place at Iznik clearly acknowledges the debt to previous scholars, notably Arthur Lane who in 1957 was the first to put stricter rigour into the chronology of the development of Iznik pottery (Arthur Lane, "Ottoman Pottery of Isnik", Ars Orientalis, vol.II, 1957, pp.247-281). It was Lane who first differentiated between the different early blue and white vessels, establishing a progression in style and execution.

The earliest "heaped and piled" blue was replaced at around the turn of the 15th/16th century by a more even tone. The early motifs, whose original invention is credited to Baba Nakkash, became somewhat looser in drawing and the compositions more open in the early years of the 16th century. Dating is provided by the tiles used in the tomb of Sehzade Mahmud, dating from 1506-7, which exemplify the new slightly changed aesthetic. (Atasoy and Raby, op.cit., pls.81 and 82, pp.90-91). Further comparable elements can be found between the present bottle and a group of mosque lamps, now divided between the British Museum and the Çinili Kösk that are associated with the tomb chamber of Sultan Bayezid II which was probably completed shortly after his death in 1512. The small floral motifs are very similar indeed, particularly to those running in vertical panels up the necks of two of the lamps, and the depth of the blue is very comparable. The trefoil panels at the base of the body are also similar, albeit not as refined, as the panels around one mosque lamp formerly in the Godman Collection (Atasoy and Raby, op.cit, pl.288). One final comparable in terms of the decoration is shown by the claudbands around the base, probably the strongest drawn element of all on this bottle. These, with their swirling feathery extensions are very similar to the cloudband motifs on the rim of a very powerful dish formerly in the Pharaon Collection in Beirut (Atasoy and Raby, op.cit, pl.291), now in the Sadberk Hanim Museum, Istanbul.

While the floral motifs and the details of drawing relate closely to known examples, the lattice of strapwork seen on the present bottle base is without parallel in early Iznik wares. Before the publication of the present bottle, the earliest example of the form, again missing the neck, formerly in the Homaizi Collection and now in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha was dated to 1520-25 (Atasoy and Raby, op.cit., pl.304; John Carswell, Iznik Pottery for the Ottoman Empire, Doha and London 2003, no.2, pp.26-7). The present bottle demonstrates that this shape was produced during the early phases of pottery at Iznik, a shape that was developed into one of the most typical of all Iznik vessels of all.

Christie's. Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds 31 March 2009 . London, King Street. www.christies.com Image 2009 Christie's Ltd