The secret of Chinese porcelain production was finally understood in Germany in 1708 and led to the growth of the European porcelain industry. The discovery of hard-paste porcelain is credited to the mathematician, physicist and physician Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus. Following his death, the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger began producing porcelain at the Meissen porcelain manufactory, where this piece was created.
Known as the ‘Wasserman Thee Potte’, the design of this teapot is based on a series of engravings compiled by the French designer Jacques Stella, which appear in his Livre de Vases of 1667. The book, which was translated into German at the beginning of the 18th century, offered craftsmen a wide range of inspirational source material. The teapot takes the form of a bearded man holding a fish, which forms the spout, while the handle takes the shape of a woman. This model was in use at Meissen from as early as 1719. The sculptor Gottlieb Kirchner is often credited as the modeller of this teapot but as he did not begin working at Meissen until 1727 this is unlikely. While this teapot is relatively plain in decoration, similar examples in other collections have been elaborately decorated and gilt.
In 1734 the teapot was delivered to the Japanisches Palais in Dresden, where Augustus the Strong housed his impressive porcelain collection, and the base of the pot still bears an inventory number from this time.