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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    1898 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, polychrome underglaze painted, glazed

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, room 122g, case 2

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Object Type
This dish was ordered by a British company from a pottery in Isfahan. The company provided watercolour images of two 16th-century dishes made at Iznik in Turkey (then on loan to the V&A) and asked for a dozen or more examples of each design. The materials and techniques still in use in Iran at that time were essentially the same as those of Ottoman Turkey 400 years earlier, and the copies were passable imitations of the originals.

The motif for this copying was to provide low-cost versions of what were then rare and expensive antiques to act as examples of 'good design'. These were to be copied by design students in art schools and technical colleges in Britain. The dishes were purchased by the V&A and circulated around educational establishments for half a century.

It is curious that it was to Iran that the company addressed its order, as copies of old Iznik ware were also still being made in Turkey. It may be that the company already had contacts in Iran, but it is also noteworthy that in the late 19th century old Turkish wares were generally regarded as Iranian in origin. This reflected the widespread prejudice that in the Middle East only the Iranians possessed the necessary artistic skills - Turks and Arabs being considered essentially 'art less' peoples.

In the 1950s, these reproductions fell out of favour, and the Museum disposed of all but this example anonymously at a small London auction house. It was not long before some started to appear in grander auctions of Islamic antiquities, optimistically catalogued as the real thing. The original, from the Godman Collection, is now in the British Museum.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


1898 (made)


unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Fritware, polychrome underglaze painted, glazed


Height: 6.4 cm, Diameter: 30.2 cm

Object history note


Pattern copied from a Damascus dish of the 16th century that was used as a model to be copied by art students
Made in Isfahan, Persia (now Iran)

Descriptive line


Labels and date

British Galleries:

From about 1840 a collection of objects was formed for the Government School of Design. It was later expanded with objects purchased from the Great Exhibition. All had been selected for their appropriate use of materials, excellent workmanship or well-designed decoration. A new museum was established and rooms were provided for it at Marlborough House, London, where it was to be available to students, manufacturers and the general public to study. [25/03/2003]

Production Note

Made in Isfahan, Persia (now Iran)




Ceramics; British Galleries

Collection code


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