Sabancı University's Sakıp Sabancı Museum presented a small but outstanding selection of European porcelain from among the five thousand pieces at the Topkapı Palace Museum.
European porcelain forms one of the most important collections at the Topkapı Palace Museum, and the collection represents some of the rarest and finest examples. The pieces were acquired as diplomatic gifts, purchases, or as part of the estates of Ottoman government and palace officials that became part of the treasury upon their deaths. Porcelain ware had always been valued both at the Ottoman palace and in wealthy households. Long before the production of true porcelain began in Europe, Chinese porcelain and locally produced İznik pottery - very close to porcelain in quality - were widely used in the upper echelons of Ottoman society.
Chinese porcelain continued to be imported in large quantities into Ottoman Turkey for centuries until superseded by European porcelain. Johann Friedrich Böttger, the first European to discover the secret of porcelain manufacture, began production at Meissen in Germany in 1710. The Ottomans were soon enamoured of European porcelain, interest being spurred by the expansion of diplomatic relations from the reign of Sultan Ahmed III (1703-1730) onwards.
Among the most notable items in this exhibition entitled European Porcelain at the Ottoman Palace were the porcelain coffee cups and services, covered dishes and ewer and basin sets that played an important part in Ottoman daily life, and a Russian dinner service that was a gift of Czar Nicholas I.