Iznik Plate East West

Stoke-on-Trent produced plate imitating Iznik patterns, from Minton & Co.
Lent by the Victoria and Albert Museum

John Constable, ‘The Revd Dr James Andrew’ 1818
John Constable
The Revd Dr James Andrew 1818

Stoke-on-Trent produced plate imitating Iznik patterns, from Minton & Co., 1862

Lent by the Victoria and Albert Museum

What historical period does this ceramic object belong to?

Here is an example of how an English company adopted Iznik design for a domestic market, suggesting that this style of ceramics continued to survive centuries after its inception during the height of the Ottoman Empire.

This nineteenth-century example, produced for display purposes by a Staffordshire ceramic manufacturing company, employs the technical innovations of its day to mimic the earlier art form. This plate was shown at the International Exhibition held in London in 1862. The firm exhibited widely at international trade fairs, including the celebrated Great Exhibition of 1851 featured in a nearby display.

Iznik Dish

Turkey about 1550
Underglaze painted stonepaste
Lent by the British Museum

From the fifteenth century onwards the area around Iznik produced distinctive ceramics characterised by their blue and white Chinese-inspired decoration (see the mosque lamp in Room 1). This bowl elaborates this basic design and colour scheme with delicate lotus flowers and saz leaves.

The combination of arabesque and bluebell motifs inside the bowl is similar to the design of an Iznik mosque lamp found near the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (now in the British Museum) and associated with Sultan Suleyman II’s refurbishment of the temple as one of the Holy Places.

John Constable, The Revd Dr James Andrew 1818

© Tate

The East India Company was established under charter by Elizabeth I on New Year’s Eve, 1600. After intense competition with the Dutch and successive restructurings in the late seventeenth century, the Company grew to become a colossal enterprise whose power shaped the world we now live in.

The Company imported many of the objects in these displays – tea, spices, fabrics, carpets, foodstuffs and a multitude of other Asian commodities. Since force was considered a necessary accompaniment to trade, the Rev Dr James Andrew trained cadets for the Company’s army at its own Military Seminary at Addiscombe near Croydon.