B.9. Iznik in the C18th:

 

In the early C18th, there was an attempt to revive the Iznik industry by transferring a number of pottery workers to the capital: two Iznik craftsmen were called in to advise on setting up the new tile factory. It was in operation by 1724, in the Tekfursaray district of Istanbul, just inside the walls on the south shore of the Golden Horn, which is where the early C16th royal ceramics workshop was probably located.

It produced tiles with a discoloured ground, and a colour scheme of dark cobalt blue, turquoise, brownish-red fading sometimes to pink, with black outlines, though two new colours were introduced – a deep green and a yellow – showing these potters were not lacking in technical skill, though they were perhaps harking back to the cuerda seca origins of the Ottoman pottery industry. The patterns tended to be single tile compositions, and were used to decorate the Hakimoglu ‘Ali Pasha mosque (1734) and a number of other mosques in Istanbul; they are also found in the harem at the Topkapi Saray, the Haghia Sophia library, and the upper part of the Ahmed III fountain (1729) just outside the entrance to the Topkapi Saray.

Such was the shortage of good-quality tiles that there are numerous cases in the C18th when Iznik tiles were shunted from one location to another, and in 1738 some were brought to Istanbul from as far afield as Edirne.

At the same time, the impact of Europe began to be felt, and the import of Dutch Delft tiles (many of which adorn the harem) and tiles from Vienna, from where 12 crates were ordered in 1756 through the intercession of an English merchant in Galata.

However, more significant than Western imports was the rise of the industry at KŁtahya, which came into its own in the C18th, producing tiles and pottery of a distinctive style, largely due to the Armenian element in the ethnic background of the potters. A series of tiles and KŁtahya ware were made as votive offerings for the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in 1718, with specifically Christian subjects and Armenian inscriptions. A whole range of gaily decorated KŁtahya ware was also produced, which maintained the Iznik range of colours though adding a bright yellow, which became mustard-like later in the century.

KŁtahya thus supplemented the increasing quantities of imported Chinese and Japanese porcelain, and European wares made specially for the Ottoman market, and Iznik was now completely eclipsed by them. Ironically, when it was of least interest in Turkey in the C19th, Europeans began to collect it avidly, giving rise to the collections of Godman (since bequeathed to the British Museum) and Benaki (now in Athens), and influencing European potters who used Iznik designs to inspire their own creations. In England, the potteries at Minton, Derby and Doulton all produced such wares, and Iznik designs even inspired the Arts and Crafts Movement (from which were born the Pre-Raphaelites), and can be seen in the textiles of William Morris (1834-1896) and the ceramics of William de Morgan (1839-1917).

 

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