Flawed beauty; Tulipmania; Broken Isnik Dishes

Published 10th February 2009

When I started out on this, my second incarnation, a life that centred on antiques I was asked at a very early age – so what are you going to specialise in? I hadn’t initially given it much thought, but then for a number of reasons mostly boring I decided on ceramics, probably driven by the fact that every house has pots in it so you are never short of something to do.

So in my time I have kissed a hell of a lot of frogs and as a result found just a few princesses. So it was, just recently, though my relationship with Lot 23 in our sale of 28th January was a fleeting one full of hope, desire and admiration, but alas ultimately out of my reach. True platonic love some would say. I am unsure whether these dishes came from the reign of Selim II or Murad III, however despite their age these dishes were far from naively decorated having stark simple, recognisable, but striking renderings of, amongst other plants, carnations and tulips. Tulips were an indigenous species of Turkey a flower that created a mania amongst the European glitterati at the time – they were the must have item of the 16th and 17th centuries. Despite being no horticulturalist these Isnik dishes were truly beautiful despite some pretty large chips and more than a few good old fashioned rusty staple repairs.

 isnik dishes


They were broken, but gorgeous and as a result of their less than perfect nature I thought they might be the achievable object of my desires, but alas it was not to be. What would you prefer a flawed beauty or perfect banality? I leave the final sentiments to Leonard Cohen ‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’.

Subscribe to catalogue alerts & news

Select your interests