DAMASCUS TILES

I looked at Arthur Milner’s gorgeous large-format book Damascus Tiles yesterday, which is a history, a gazetteer and a large collection of high-quality photos.

It explained why there was such confusion in Britain until the 20th century about the precise origin of these tiles, because there was not only influence and export but also movement of the potters from place to place. The story isn’t just of Damascus but also of Jerusalem, Istanbul and Cairo and the rise and fall of empires over a thousand years.

Milner calls the enthusiasm for Damascus tiles in Britain at the end of the 19th century “a craze”, and the focus of the craze has to be the Arab Hall in Frederic Leighton’s house (which he describes as the largest one-bedroomed house in London), mainly tiled with panels from the Near East but also with fill-in sections by William de Morgan. It’s closed till the spring, but I’ll look at it again then with fresh eyes.

2 thoughts on “DAMASCUS TILES

  1. A few weeks ago we were privileged to view the Harem in Instanbul Topkapi Palace. Restoration is nearly complete and almost all the rooms were accessible. Stupendous, well worth a visit if only for the tiles and wall paintings. To catch a feeling of the place read Elif Shafak’s The Architects Apprentice, which by accident we were both reading at the time of the visit, it came alive.

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