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Tile

  • Place of origin:

    Iznik (made)

  • Date:

    1540-1550 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, underglaze painted in cobalt blue and turquoise, glazed

  • Museum number:

    1042B-1892

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Tile of fritware, triangular, painted with a floral pattern in dark blue and white on a turquoise blue ground.

Place of Origin

Iznik (made)

Date

1540-1550 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Fritware, underglaze painted in cobalt blue and turquoise, glazed

Dimensions

Height: 10.8 cm each side, Width: 11.6 cm, Depth: 1.9 cm

Object history note

This item was part of the grand programme of tile revetments that once decorated a bath-house in the Zeyrek district of Istanbul. So extensive was the use of tiling on its walls that the building came to be known as the Çinili Hamam, the Tiled Bath-house.

(a) Patronage. The bath-house was built by the Ottoman admiral called Barbarossa in Western sources and Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa in Turkish. He is famous as the Ottoman empire’s greatest naval commander. The admiral, whose original given name was Hıdır, was born on the island of Lesbos about 1478. He began his naval career as a privateer, and in the 1510s he assisted his elder brother Oruç in establishing a “sultanate” with ever-changing borders in what is now Algeria and Tunisia. There they confronted the Spanish, whom Oruç was killed fighting in 1518. Barbarossa succeeded him, ruling under Ottoman suzerainty. In 1534 he swapped his province for command of the Ottoman navy. He held this post until his death in 1546, carrying out a series of successful campaigns against the Spanish and their allies, often in co-operation with the French.

During his later years Barbarossa began to erect religious monuments in Istanbul, of which only his tomb in the Beşiktaş district survives. The admiral built his splendid bath-house in the Zeyrek district so that the profits could support his religious foundations. As grand admiral (kapudan-ı deryâ), Barbarossa had access to the resources of the state in realising these projects. The bath was designed by the famous court architect, Sinan (d. 1588), and the tiles that decorate the building relate to those made for the imperial palace in the same period.

(b) Dispersal. The bath-house was sold off in the 19th century, and in subsequent restoration work, most of the remaining tiles were removed and sold to a dealer called Ludovic Lupti, probably in 1874. Lupti marketed them in Paris. From the 1890s to the 1950s, many examples were acquired by the V&A. At the time the Museum was unaware of their origin or even of the fact that they all came from one building. Excavation and conservation work on the bath-house, begun in 2012, has established the connection beyond doubt.

This tile was purchased in November 1892, when the South Kensington Museum bought more than 500 tiles of different types from Mrs Elizabeth Edkins of 12 Charlotte Street, Bristol, for £125.0s.0d. The tiles purchased from Mrs Edkins were accessioned as nos 920 to 1435-1892. The vendor’s late husband, William Edkins, had kept the tiles in drawers in a specially made cabinet, and an accession number was ascribed to each tile on the basis of an inventory that listed them drawer by drawer. The group included 11 tiles now identified as coming from the Çinili Hamam in the Zeyrek district of Istanbul. Seven triangular tiles were kept in drawers 2 and 11 (961-1892 and 1042 to 1043A-1892 respectively), with the six in drawer 11 “forming a hexagon”. Two hexagonal and two rectangular border tiles were kept in drawers 8 and 12 (1019 to 1021-1892, and 1058-1892, respectively). This group now consists of only 10 tiles, as 1042C-1892 was transferred to the Museum’s Circulation Department, which organised travelling exhibitions around Britain, in 1909. It was written off as irretrievably lost in 1952.

(c) The complete list of V&A tiles that have been identified as coming from the Çinili Hamam:

686-1892
686A-1892
686B-1892
961-1892
1019-1892
1020-1892
1021-1892
1042-1892
1042A-1892
1042B-1892
1043-1892
1043A-1892
1058-1892
1679-1892
1679A-1892
1680-1892
1681-1892
1313-1893
221-1896
508-1900
513-1900
396-1905
397-1905
C.2-1953
C.3-1953
C.3A-1953
C.4-1953
C.5-1953
C.6-1953
C.9-1953
C.10-1953
C.12-1953
C.13-1953
C.14-1953
Circ.26-1953
Circ.27-1953
Circ.28-1953
Circ.30-1953

Descriptive line

Tile, fritware body, painted under the glaze in blue and turquoise, Turkey (Iznik), 1540s; from the Çinili Hamam (Tiled Bath-house) in the Zeyrek district of Istanbul.

Production Note

Register

Materials

Fritware

Techniques

Painted; Glazed

Subjects depicted

Floral patterns

Categories

Ceramics; Tiles

Collection

Middle East Section

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