Lot 227. A large Iznik pottery jug, Ottoman Turkey, circa 1580; 12¼in. (31cm.) high. Estimate GBP 30,000 - GBP 50,000. Price realised GBP 43,750. © Christie's Image Ltd 2013
Rising from slightly flaring round foot to wide bulbous body tapering towards the shoulder, the white ground painted in cobalt-blue, bole-red, green and black, the foot with a band of strapwork, the body with a ground of elegant green fishscale set with trilobed palmettes with cusped edges framing a band of curved stylised leaves formed of interlacing palmettes, the base of the neck with a minor band of curving leaves and palmettes and a band of strapwork, a large cusped palmette around the base of the handle, the restored neck in a similar style in the 19th century, possibly by Samson.
Provenance: A French Collection, sold Sotheby's, 25 April 1996, lot 70.
Note: The use of the elegant fish scale pattern which covers the ground of this jug is first found decorating an example in the form of a fish in the Benaki Museum, Athens, which dates to the 1520's (inv.no.10, Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik, the Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, London, 1989, no.451, pl.124, p.106). The scale pattern was probably inspired by early 16th century Deruta majolica although its use can be seen in Islamic art on a 15th century twin dragon headed candlestick from Khorassan in the David Collection (Kjeld von Folsach, Islamic Art, Copenhagen, 1990, no.346, p.207). In the late 1570s and 80s it became popular to enliven the background of vessels with fishscale motif, as seen here.
The practice of separating panels of fishscale with arabesque or saz leaves, as on our jug, also became popular. The technique can be seen on a water bottle in the British Museum dating to 1580-85 (inv.no.G.1983.83, Atasoy and Raby, op.cit., p.l.745). As on our jug, the leaves which interrupt the fish scale there are made up of a series of elegant and interlocking palmettes, an attestation to the inventiveness of the potters of Iznik.
When it first appeared at Sotheby's, it was suggested that the restoration to the neck of this jug was added in France by the Samson factory, who is known to have produce Iznik revival vessels.
Christie's. Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds, London, 25 April 2013