Oriental carpets, ceramics and other lavish works of art were often exhibited to evoke the atmosphere of the One Thousand and One Nights.
Initially, Islamic art was displayed at the universal exhibitions until a number of specialised international exhibitions took place during the second half of the century. These exhibitions, which showed a blend of connoisseurship and scholarship, promoted trade and exploited a growing interest in the formation of collections. The first was in Paris in 1855, followed by those in London, Vienna, Rome, and then Munich in 1910. While museums’ interest in exhibiting works of art from around the world developed, representatives from them travelled in search of objects. A growing awareness among the Islamic countries that they had a responsibility to preserve their antiquities, led to the creation of organisations such as the Comité de Conservation des Monuments de l’Art Arabe in 1881 by the Khedive of Egypt Muhammad ‘Ali Tawfiq and, thereafter, to the Museum of Islamic Art in Egypt.
Iznik bottle

16th century; bought in 1920

Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece


According to the base, the bottle was part of the 1885 exhibition at Burlington Arts Club in London and the 1925 “Exposition d’art musulman” in Alexandria. The London exhibition, which was based on private collections in Britain, placed emphasis on illustrating the arts of Iran and the influence it had on the so-called ceramics of Damascus and Rhodes.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Encountering the East
Encountering the West
The concept of revivals