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The famed blue and white “Onion” pattern was developed around 1735 on the basis of such East Asian motifs as the chrysanthemum and the pomegranate. Mistaking a pomegranate for an onion, the German painters developed this pattern to capitalize on the European love of blue and white ware. Later adopted by other European and, ironically, Chinese factories, the blue onion pattern exhibited the painters’ skill in controlling the unpredictable cobalt color. By its nature of being under the glaze, cobalt blue designs had softer edges, and it took the Meissen painters longer to learn to perfect underglaze blue than other colors.
This small tea caddy (storage container for dried tea leaves) was the first piece purchased by Ralph Wark, who donated this collection to The Cummer.