İznik Mavi Çini Imitations of Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in Europe in the 19th Century - İznik Mavi Çini
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Imitations of Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in Europe in the 19th Century

Imitations of Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in Europe in the 19th Century

3 December 2023

The artistic legacy of the Ottoman Empire created a mesmerizing impact in Europe during the 19th century, particularly with Iznik tiles and ceramics. The unique beauty of these works deeply influenced European artists, serving as a source of inspiration and expanding the boundaries of ceramic art. In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating journey of European imitations of Iznik works and the stories of famous workshops that produced these art copies.

Théodore Deck and the First European Imitations of Iznik Ceramics

Since the 16th century, Europe showed a great interest in Iznik ceramics, commissioning these unique works and even many European ceramic artists began producing imitations in the latter half of the 19th century. Among these artists, the most notable was Théodore Deck (1823-1891), considered a pioneer of modern ceramic art. Deck, with his experiences at the Sevres porcelain factory, established his own workshop in Paris in 1856 and revived ancient ceramic techniques. Focusing particularly on the production techniques of Iznik tiles and ceramics, Deck began scientifically replicating these dishes in the 1860s. While Deck was successful in replicating Iranian ceramics, he could not achieve the same success with imitations of Iznik ceramics.

Emile Samson and the Cantagalli Workshop

Another French ceramic artist, Emile Samson (1837-1913), produced rare imitations of Iznik ceramics at his workshop in Montreuil, near Paris, while repairing and imitating European and Far Eastern porcelains. These imitations, close in form and decoration to Iznik ceramics, were signed with an Arabic "S" on the bottom. The Cantagalli workshop, reorganized and operational since 1878 by Ulisse Cantagalli in Florence, produced successful copies of Italian and Spanish ceramics as well as Iznik ceramics. The Cantagalli workshop, prioritizing honesty in its production, marked each ceramic with the workshop’s symbol, a crowing rooster.

British Workshops and William de Morgan

In England, workshops such as Minton, Derby, and Doulton tried imitating Iznik ceramics, while artists like William de Morgan (1839-1917) were successful in interpreting Ottoman patterns and creating original designs. De Morgan particularly favored the colors used in Damascus tiles in his work. Figures like Colin Minton, Leon Parvillee, and Edmond Lachenal also made significant contributions to this art form.

Workshops in Other European Countries

Apart from these workshops, there have been studios in other European countries influenced by Ottoman ceramics. In the Netherlands, Van Straaten; in Belgium, Villeroy Boch; and in Hungary, Zsolnay are among these studios. These workshops typically produced quite striking and sometimes tasteless copies.

The 19th century can be considered the golden age of artistic interaction created by Iznik ceramics in Europe. From Théodore Deck to William de Morgan, many artists drew inspiration from these unique works to create their own productions. This process is not only significant as a mere copying of art works but also as an indication of cultural exchange and creativity. Iznik ceramics will continue to be an important part of not only Ottoman art but also global art history.

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