Chinese polychrome porcelain decoration was particularly refined during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1662–1722), when production and innovation in the porcelain kilns of Jingdezhen was at its height. The style most identifiable with the Kangxi era is known as Wucai (‘many colours’), a particular palette of overglaze enamel colours dominated by hues of green, which can be seen on this teapot. This style is better known in the West as Famille Verte, a term introduced by the French art historian Albert Jacquemart in his seminal book L’Histoire de la Céramique (1873). Famille Verte porcelain enjoyed a widespread appeal and was produced in vast quantities for domestic use but also for export to the West, where it was extremely sought after.
‘Top’ or ‘over’ handles, such as the one on this teapot, assumed their basic form from Chinese wine pots and were common during this period. By 1710, however, they were becoming less prevalent due to their impracticality in the preparation of tea. The overhandle is painted to resemble wrapped rattan, and the teapot is decorated with flower vases, censers and foliage.