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 or ‘five 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.
The decoration of flowering prunus blossom is one of the ‘three friends of winter’ or suihan sanyou, a term coined by Chinese scholars who regarded the plants as symbols of resolve, due to their ability to endure harsh winters.