Antique Meissen Blue Onion 3-Tiered Dessert Stand
An absolutely exquisite treasure that will be a breathtaking centerpiece wherever it is displayed, this exceptional 3-Tiered Antique Dessert Stand is a true masterpiece from the esteemed Meissen porcelain manufactory of Germany.
In their historic "Blue Onion" pattern, the tiered stand is rich in intricate details. Entirely hand-painted, the stand is in Blue Onion's traditional deep cobalt palette using the underglaze techniques that Meissen perfected in the early 1700s when they became the first in Europe to use this once-secret art of decorating china. The beloved Blue Onion pattern features stylized fruits and florals to create a design that imitated the highly prized blue and white porcelain imported to Europe from China since the 13th century.
The dessert stand's three graduated and reticulated plates rise elegantly from the swirled base reaching to its apex where a vivacious finial figurine takes centerstage. The Flower Seller figurine is sublime in its intricate finishes - delicately hand-painted using brushes composed of a single hair to execute its fine details. Dressed in an opulent 17th century coat and breeches with a stylish mix of blue and white patterns, the flower seller holds his flower-filled hat at his hip while raising one bloom aloft above his head.
A gorgeous piece with timeless appeal, this rare dessert stand showcases Meissen's unrivaled artistic porcelain mastery, resulting in an heirloom that will be treasured for generations.
For In-Store Pick-up Only. Due to the height and delicate nature of this stand, we are unable to ship it.
Strictly one-of-a-kind and subject to prior sale. In very good antique condition. Dessert Stand measures 22" tall and 10 7/8" at the widest point (bottom tier). The middle tier measures 9.25" in diameter and the top tier measures 8" in diameter. The Flower Seller figurine is 6.75" tall.
Learn More About Meissen Porcelain
The story of Meissen porcelain began in 1708, when Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus developed his own method for making hard-paste porcelain in his castle workshop in Meissen, Germany. An innovative addition to the European ceramics market, hard-paste porcelain is typically blended from kaolin and petuntse to allow for a purer white finish after firing. The technique, which originated from Asia, made for an even better substrate for richly painted and gilded decorations. Its introduction in Europe changed the market for elegant ceramic services, and Meissen was primed to lead the charge.
Johann Friedrich Böttger, Tschirnhaus’ early collaborator and eventual successor, began producing their “white gold” hard-paste wares in 1710. By the following decade, the Meissen trademark was a renowned symbol of exceptional production. When Böttger died in 1719, King Augustus II of Poland, who had been an early patron of the company, introduced a group of managing directors to inspire new designs and developments. This allowed Meissen to stay consistent in its remarkable quality of craftsmanship while changing its motifs for contemporary tastes. The rise of the competing French porcelian house Sevres' neoclassical themes in the late 18th century led Meissen’s makers to respond with similar designs.
A blend of quality and design fueled Meissen’s popularity throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. Although war efforts resulted in changes in management and production, the Meissen brand continued to be associated with high quality. From the iconic Scwhanenservice (Swan Service) designed for the company’s director in the late 1730s to the chocolate pot gifted to Queen Elizabeth II at the time of her wedding, Meissen porcelain has proven to be a perennial favorite.
Learn More About the Blue Onion Pattern
The Meissen “Blue Onion,” or Zwiebelmuster, pattern was first produced in the early 1740s and was modeled after the imported blue and white porcelain produced in China. A close look at pieces from this line reveal that no onions actually appear in the design. Rather, to give the pattern its own Germanic style, Meissen’s designers refined the cobalt blue decorative motifs to include flora more characteristic of the European landscape, such as peony and aster blooms. Despite this misnomer, Meissen’s Blue Onion pattern rapidly became one of its most popular and copied. Even the famed Wedgwood studios launched their own variation, aptly called “Meissen,” in the late 19th century.
Learn More About Meissen Figurines
Meissen figurines were one of the earliest creations in the history of the Meissen brand. They were first developed by sculptor Johann Jakob Kirchner but made popular during the tenure of Johann Joachim Kändler in the 1730s. Kändler would go on to be recognized as one of the most influential Meissen designers. His figurines, rendered in myriad styles and various colors, became one of the most iconic creations of the brand.
Learn More About European Porcelain
Seemingly available cheaply everywhere and taken for granted today, objects made out of porcelain were once rare and precious things to Europeans. Since the time of the Tang dynasty (618-907) only the Chinese knew the process of mixing ground petuntse (a type of low-iron volcanic stone) with kaolin (a hydrated aluminum silicate crystalline mineral clay), and firing at high temperatures to produce items prized for their strength, translucence, and pure white color. Porcelain was so associated with its origin, that the type of ceramic came to be known simply as “china.”
By the 13th century, porcelain imported from China was highly prized in the royal courts of Europe. The versatility and hardness of the material allowed for lighter, thinner, more elegant wares than did contemporary European pottery, but the lengthy and dangerous journey from China to Europe made these wares extravagantly expensive.
By the early 18th century most of Europe’s courts were attempting to copy China’s porcelain, but it was the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger who first succeeded in Meissen in 1708 under commission from the royal court of Saxony.
The German manufactories in Meissen and Dresden began production in 1710, and over the rest of the eighteenth century porcelain manufacture spread over the rest of Europe.