Teapot and presentoir

DATE: ca.1710 (made)
PLACE: China (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain with incised decoration, painted with overglaze enamels and gilt

This porcelain teapot and presentoir feature painted bands of Famille Verte decoration, with its characteristic glassy enamel colours in tones of green, red, yellow and blue with black outlines. This is unusually combined with subtly incised decoration featuring sprigs of prunus blossoms. This technique is known as anhua (‘secret’ or ‘veiled’) and refers to decoration which was carved, incised or impressed onto the porcelain before glazing and firing. This type of decoration was first used by Chinese potters during the Song dynasty for white wares, such as Ding or Qinbai porcelain. Some wares were often quite deeply incised and the decoration clearly visible, but the technique developed to include very fine ornament often only visible against the light. The enamel decoration, milky porcelain ground and the delicacy of this incised ornament would have appealed to the Western market, for which this teapot and presentoir were produced.