The scene is taken from a series of paintings by Francesco Albani (1578-1660) representing 'The Four Elements', which were commissioned by Cardinal Maurice of Savoy and are now in the Turin Gallery. The present example being 'Air' is a fanciful illustration of Virgil, Aeneid, 1:50-86 in which Juno, who personifies Air, persuades Aeolus to release the winds on the Etruscan seas in an attempt to destroy Aeneas and his fleet. The winds, in the form of mischievous putti, were kept in a cave set into the side of a mountain. The scene depicted shows Aeolus opening the door to the cave thereby releasing the winds on the sea.
See Howard and Ayers, China for the West, 1978, vol. II, fig. 327, p.331 for a teapot with this scene from the Mottahedeh Collection. A plate with this design, formerly in the Franks Collection, is in the British Museum, exhibited Ancient Chinese Trade Ceramics from the British Museum, Taibei, 1994, no.57, pp.136 and 137. A dish was sold in these Rooms, 16 March 1981, lot 274; and a teapot-stand was sold in these Rooms, 16 November 1999, lot 373. See also lots 163 and 164.