Traditions of the Greek Olympics, £8.99
From the Venetian Empire, possibly Corfu, about AD 1540-70
A bird's-eye view of part of Corfu during the siege of 1537
The island of Corfu was of great importance to the Venetian Republic both for its strategic position in the Mediterranean and as a significant commercial centre. Frequently threatened by the Ottoman Empire throughout the sixteenth century, the island's defences were continually being strengthened. In 1537 Barbarossa (died 1546) the admiral of the Ottoman fleet, invaded the island with a large force. Venetian and Corfiote troops valiantly defended the fortress of Corfu, and the Turks abandoned the siege after thirteen days. An account of the siege is described by a Corfiote eye-witness, Noukios Nikander; two of the scenes on the rim of the dish correspond to episodes he described.
In the centre of the dish is an aerial view of part of the island during the siege. The fortress can be seen, flying the Venetian flag, as can the town of Corfu with Turkish galleys entering the harbour. The scene continues among the interlace pattern on the sides. The rim also has interlaced pattern with panels showing incidents that may have taken place during the siege. A more elaborate dish with similar scenes of the siege of Corfu, also in The British Museum's collection, is signed by Niccolo Rugina of Corfu and is dated to about 1540-60.
J.M. Rogers and R. Ward, Suleyman the Magnificent (London, The British Museum Press, 1988)