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Not currently on display at the V&A

Tile

1540-1550 (made)

Tile of fritware (also called stone paste), painted in blue and turquoise on a white ground. When mounted in a border frieze, the design would have produced a continuous pattern with two main elements. The most prominent, set in the centre of the tile, is a pointed oval compartment with a scalloped outline, which contains decoration appearing as white on a blue ground. Set between these blue compartments, and appearing only as half-motifs at either end of the tile, are large, stencil-like blossoms of East Asian origin, which belong to a mode of design called hatâyî in Turkish. Each blossom is framed by a complex blue outline set with half-palmettes and finials in the rûmî mode. These main elements – the blue compartments and the hatâyî blossoms – are linked by a spiralling stem that emerges from the base of the blue compartment and runs under the large hatâyî blossom and then back under the blue compartment before ending in the space between the two. The stem is set with a five-petal rosette, smaller hatâyî blossoms and small leaves. The border is set with three types of conventionalised blossom linked by curving stems set with small leaves, all appearing white against the blue ground.

The same pattern occurs on five tiles in the V&A collection: 686-1892, 686A-1892, 686B-1892, 221-1896 and Circ.28-1953.


object details
Object Type
Brief Description
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.
Physical Description
Tile of fritware (also called stone paste), painted in blue and turquoise on a white ground. When mounted in a border frieze, the design would have produced a continuous pattern with two main elements. The most prominent, set in the centre of the tile, is a pointed oval compartment with a scalloped outline, which contains decoration appearing as white on a blue ground. Set between these blue compartments, and appearing only as half-motifs at either end of the tile, are large, stencil-like blossoms of East Asian origin, which belong to a mode of design called hatâyî in Turkish. Each blossom is framed by a complex blue outline set with half-palmettes and finials in the rûmî mode. These main elements – the blue compartments and the hatâyî blossoms – are linked by a spiralling stem that emerges from the base of the blue compartment and runs under the large hatâyî blossom and then back under the blue compartment before ending in the space between the two. The stem is set with a five-petal rosette, smaller hatâyî blossoms and small leaves. The border is set with three types of conventionalised blossom linked by curving stems set with small leaves, all appearing white against the blue ground.



The same pattern occurs on five tiles in the V&A collection: 686-1892, 686A-1892, 686B-1892, 221-1896 and Circ.28-1953.

Dimensions
  • Height: 26.3cm
  • Width: 20cm
  • Depth: 2cm
Object history
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 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 at an auction at Christie’s, London, on 8 July 1896, when it was put up for sale by the executors of the painter Lord Leighton (died 25 January of the same year); it was one of the six tiles in lot 154, which sold for £8.8s.0d. Leighton had acquired tiles from several sources, including the Çinili Hamam, and had incorporated them into the decoration of his house in Holland Park Road, London, now the Leighton House Museum. The six tiles sold at Christie's were presumably surplus to requirements.



(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

Collection
Accession Number
221-1896

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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