Ottoman Iznik pottery bowl sets auction record at $2.3m

The world record for an example of Iznik pottery from the Ottoman Empire has been raised by 250% by an important bowl dating to the 16th century.

Ottoman Iznik pottery auction record
Iznik pottery began as an imitation of China's famed blue-and-white ceramics, but soon developed a distinctive style of its own

Created in Ottoman Turkey around 1510, the bowl is a stunning example of the pottery that became renowned throughout the world for its quality and beauty.

It sold for £1.4m ($2.3m) at Christie's on April 10, achieving a considerable increase on the previous record for Iznik pottery of $682,500, set by a pair of bottles at Bonhams in April 2013.

"Sometime towards the end of the 15th-century Ottoman potters started manufacturing blue-and-white ceramics of a technical standard unmatched in the Muslim world since the early thirteenth century pottery of Kashan," explains Julian Raby in his book Iznik, the Pottery of Ottoman Turkey (1989).

"The vessels, often of impressive size, had a hard, dense fritware body covered with a brilliant white slip, onto which were painted elaborate arabesques and floral scrolls in a rich cobalt which had depth and texture - the 'heap and piled' effect - of the first Yuan blue-and-white porcelains from China."

The bowl is particularly valued for its unusual design, which reflects the flamboyance of its creator. Using classic motifs, it also combines floral designs and cypress trees for the first time in Iznik pottery.

Last week saw a world record set for any Chinese ceramic, when a 15th century "chicken cup" sold for $36.2m at Sotheby's in Hong Kong.

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