About this artwork
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, at the height of the Ottoman Empire, ceramic vessels and tiles of remarkable artistic and technical quality were produced at Iznik, a city in northwestern Anatolia. The middle of the sixteenth century was an important moment in the evolution of Iznik wares. To the existing blue-and-white palette was added color: first turquoise, green, and purple, then a red slip. The earlier focus on tableware was supplemented by a new demand for architectural tilework. Also at this time a new style emerged that emphasized floral motifs, such as familiar flowers (roses, carnations, tulips, etc.), as well as compositions of leaves and palmettes. The enduring quality of Iznik at its best and most representative is the effect of bold patterning in brilliant polychrome set against a pure white ground.
The design here consists of elaborate palmettes and sinuously writhing leaves with serrated edges. Rosettes are half-covered by leaves, which, in turn, are pierced by stems. This pattern is typical of the so-called saz style, a term that derives from the words saz kalem, or “reed pen.” The style developed in album drawings in black ink executed during the second half of the sixteenth century and became widely popular in various media. The two works in the Art Institute’s collection can be dated to about 1560, the apogee of Iznik tile production. They were meant to be contiguous since the pattern continues effortlessly from one to the other.
- Two Tiles with Continuous Floral Pattern
- Fritware, painted in blue, turquoise, red, green, and black under a transparent glaze
- A: 27.9 × 22.2 × 2 cm (11 × 8 3/4 × 7/8 in.); B: 27.9 × 22.4 × 2.1 cm (11 3/8 × 8 13/16 × 7/8 in.)
- Mary Jane Gunsaulus Collection