DATE: ca. 1745 (made)
PLACE: China (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain painted in overglaze enamels and gilt

This Chinese export porcelain teapot is decorated with fine grisaille scenes. En grisaille refers to a style of monochromatic painting in shades of grey, used especially for the depiction of relief sculpture or for preparatory underpainting. A technique used in Europe since the 12th century, it was adopted around 1730 by Chinese ceramic painters decorating white porcelain wares with black line painting. As these porcelain wares were intended for export to the Western market, Chinese painters often copied scenes from European engravings and copper plate prints obtained from European merchants and missionaries. The scenes for these wares were often mythological or derived from classical antiquity to appeal to Western taste.

This teapot was once part of the renowned Hervouët Collection of Chinese export porcelain, amassed over thirty years by François and Nicole Hervouët. In their 1986 book illustrating their collection, La porcelaine des compagnies des Indes, à décor occidental, the painted scene on this teapot is described as ‘a man beckons his dog, and the dog follows’. This teapot is the only known porcelain decorated with this European scene, which was copied by Chinese enamellers from an engraving by Sébastien Leclerc (1637–1714), a French engraver. Leclerc was a member of the Royal Academy of painting and sculpture from 1672, and went on to become engraver to the King in 1688. Leclerc was a prolific draughtsman, creating over three thousand works throughout his career. This design was featured in a published book of drawings entitled Diverses Suites de figures, chevaux et paysages pour l’instruction de Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne (1685).