Discover Decorative Arts From the Ottoman Empire

The Walters presents exceptional embroidered textiles, glazed pottery and metalwork

Baltimore—The Walters Art Museum will offer a selection of its 18th- and 19th-century decorative arts from the Ottoman Empire—the borders of which once stretched over Asia Minor, the Balkans, North Africa and other regions—in “Ottoman Embroideries & Other Ornament.” From May 5 to Sept. 9, visitors can see 24 Ottoman objects, including embroidered textiles, glazed pottery and metalwork, most of which have not been on view in the past three decades.

“The Ottoman Empire was home to several large national communities, including Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Arabs,” said Georgi Parpulov, Mellon Fellow in Medieval Art. “This focus show will display part of the Walters’ fine but little-known collection of Ottoman decorative art, revealing how artists influenced each other across ethnic and religious boundaries.”

Initially, Ottoman craftsmen took inspiration from different sources but with the circulation of their products, a shared, sophisticated “language” of ornament emerged. At the same time, artists would modify and adapt the ornament to their specific needs and beliefs.

Objects, such as sashes, napkins, dishes, church vestments, silver bowls and swords, will illustrate many of the typical ornamental motifs of Ottoman decorative art. Also on view will be Ottoman Turkish mirror covers from the 18th century, which were draped around mirrors during the day as decoration. Before sunset, the Turks covered mirrors because they were superstitious about looking in them at night, believing the devil lurked there.

The museum’s permanent display of Islamic art includes further works of Ottoman painted ceramics, such as tiles, mosque lamps, vases, tankards and plates.

The Walters Art Museum is located in Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre streets. Its collection includes ancient art, medieval art and manuscripts, decorative objects, Asian art, and Old Master and 19th-century paintings. Peabody Court is the official hotel of the Walters Art Museum. For hotel reservations, call 1-800-292-5500.