One of the most distinctive characteristics of Ottoman art from its earliest years is that patterns and styles designed by court-employed artists ofthe Ehli Hiref organization were employed by craftsmen and artisans in all the metalwork, ceramics, tiles, fabrics, and carpets that were made to order for the court. As a result of this practice, there developed a unique and uniform "courtly style". In works of the Early Ottoman period, the most widely-used decorative motifs were rumis enriched with stylized hatayi blossoms, palmettes, and lotuses on floral scroll and geometric compositions. Cloud bands also begin appearing during the late 15th century.
The first half of the 16th century was witness to the development of the Classical Ottoman style. The chief painter to the court of Süleyman I was Şahkulu and under his tutelage there developed a courtly style known as "saz" whose principal elements are hatayi blossoms and large serrate leaves that twist and rum among which birds and fantastic creatures are occasionally placed at random. The triple-dot "çintemanis" representing a leopard's spots and the pairs of wavy lines or clouds representing a tiger's stripes become prevalent during this period.
Under the direction of an artist by the name of Kara Memi, who became head of the court studios towards the middle of the 16th century, naturalist floral designs consisting of tulips, roses, hyacinths, fruit trees in blossom, and cypresses begin to appear and become the distinctive theme of Ottoman art. These naturally-executed flowers were employed according to specific compositional frameworks adhering to the principles of symmetry and infinitely-extensible patterns. Motifs are set individually on diagonally-arranged axes, on vertically-extending floral scroll, and in inedaltions.
During the 17th century Ottoman art suffered a decline. During the so-called "Tulip Period" of the early 18th century, an effort was made to reverse this and recapture some of the magnificence of the 16th century. As a result of increased relations between the Ottointn Empire and the west during this period, the influences of European art begin to make themselves felt: the floral motifs of the Classical period are now arranged in bouquets while an attempt is made to capture the effects of light and shade by means of tonal gradations. Dishes of fruit, landscapes with perspective, and scenes depicting celebrations and styles of dress (characteristic of the work of the miniaturist, Levni) are among the most popular themes of this period.
As a result of steadily-increasing interest in European art and life-styles during the late 18th century, there emerged a style of art known as "Turkish Rococo" that was widely employed incorporating garlands of flowers, large acanthus leaves, baskets and dishes full of fruit, ribbons and bows, oyster shells, and cornucopia that were used extensively in a wide range of applications in everything from architecture to minor handicrafts.