Showcasing the breadth and depth of our collections—from ancient to modern times and across a variety of media—A Peek into Our Collections offers a window on what is on view in the new Harvard Art Museums, which opened to the public on November 16.
Dish with Saz Spray Decoration, attributed to Shahquli, Turkey, Iznik, Ottoman period, c. 1540–50, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottomans were one of the Islamic world’s most formidable imperial powers. With the capital in Istanbul, the empire spread at its height to Africa, Europe, and Asia. Although their realm was vast, the Ottomans developed a unified artistic character through the imperial court’s design studio. This dish is attributed to Shahquli, an émigré artist from Iran who directed the design studio from the 1540s to 1556. Shahquli is well known for ink drawings that feature meticulously drawn intertwining branches with serrated leaves such as those found on this dish’s exuberant floral sprays. The complex design and painting technique seen here, especially the tonal rendering of the purple, distinguish this dish from all other Ottoman ceramics that use these colors—evidence of an exceptional undertaking that can be credited to Shahquli himself.
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