The Benaki Museum in Athens has a wide-ranging collection of Iznik ceramics with a number of rare and important pieces, including some with Greek inscriptions. Although individual pieces have long been known, this is the first time the collection, comprising 112 objects, 59 tiles and panels and 223 sherds, has been published in its entirety.
A large part of the collection was acquired by the Benakis brothers, Antonis and Alexandros. Their collecting interests included important examples of Iznik ceramics which were mainly acquired in Egypt and prominently exhibited at the museum when it first opened in 1931.
John Carswell (1931‒2023) was Professor of Fine Arts at the American University of Beirut, Director of the Smart Museum and Curator of the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago and Director of Islamic Works of Art at Sotheby’s, London. He published extensively on Turkish ceramics, as well as Islamic ceramics more generally, and on blue-and-white Chinese porcelain.
Mina Moraitou has been the curator of the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art since 2012. She has coordinated and curated several exhibitions: Thomas Hope: Drawings of Ottoman Istanbul (Athens, 2016, Sharjah 2017); Iznik—A Fascination with Ceramics (2017); Islamic Calligraphy: The Art of Iranian Writing (2018) and Roads of Arabia (2019).
Melanie Gibson is Senior Editor of Gingko’s Art Series. She lectures widely and her publications focus on the ceramics, glass and sculpture of the Islamic world.