Part of the Smithsonian’s National Museums of Asian art, and surely one of the most aesthetically pleasing galleries in the world, the Freer’s vast holding of 25,000 artefacts is sparingly and enticingly exhibited. One gallery devoted to Islamic art includes a ravishing silk-satin cenotaph cover from Ottoman Turkey woven in the 17th or 18th century in thuluth script with pious invocations and the second sura of the Koran, al-Buqara, ‘We see the turning of thy face to the heavens, now shall we turn thee to a qibla…’
‘Style and Status’ at the Sackler Gallery.
For boldness, colour and virtuosity nothing can compare with the golden age of the Ottoman kaftan. After months of conservation work to ensure that they could travel safely, the Topkapı lent the Sackler dozens of its mesmerising royal kaftans. Here Nurhan Atasoy, the exhibition’s guest curator, unwraps six robes of rank from a show that swept the design world off its feet.