DATE: 19th century (made) silver mounts
ca.1600-1650 (made)
PLACE: China (made)
Netherlands (made) silver mounts
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain decorated in blue underglaze enamel and silver mounts

Blue and white Chinese pottery reached its zenith during the Ming dynasty after being developed under Mongol Yuan rule (1271-1368). The kilns at Jingdezhen in the southeast province of Jiangxi produced some of the highest quality blue and white wares, globally exporting the pieces from the fifteenth century. From the early seventeenth century, Chinese porcelain teapots began to be exported to Europe along with tea, which was slowly becoming a fashionable drink in the West.

The decoration uses cobalt blue pigment likely imported from the Middle East and depicts male figures in a Chinese landscape surrounded by cultural motifs. The pine tree symbolises longevity and the ability to withstand the harsh winter, while the deer, another symbol of longevity, is the only animal believed capable of finding the sacred fungus of immortality, lingzhi.

Mounts were often added to export wares once they reached Europe to emphasise their luxury and rarity, as well as to mask any damage that had occurred in transit. The silver handle, spout and finial on this teapot were most likely produced to replace broken elements.