The scene is taken from an engraving by Antoine Herisset (1685-1769) after a series of paintings by Francesco Albani (1578-1660) depicting 'The Four Elements'. The paintings were commissioned by Cardinal Maurice of Savoy and are now in the Turin Gallery. A set of four Chinese plates representing Water, Earth, Fire and Air, is illustrated by G. C. Williamson, The Book of Famille Rose, London, 1927, pl. XXXIX; and also in Hervouët and Bruneau, La Porcelaine des Compagnies des Indes à Décor Occidental, Paris, 1986, pp. 318 and 319.
Teapots with the 'Four Elements' designs are particularly rare; see the Mottahedeh example, formerly in the W. Martin-Hurst Collection, depicting 'Air' which has identical narrow sepia and gilt bands at the neck and on the cover as the present example, and which is illustrated by Howard and Ayers, China for the West, London and New York, 1978, vol. I, p. 331, fig. 327. Plates depicting 'Water' are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Helena McCann Woolworth Collection, illustrated by C. Le Corbeilller, China Trade Porcelain: Patterns of Exchange, New York, 1974, p. 64, no. 27 together with the Herisset engraving on p. 65, which is also in the Metropolitan Museum; another plate of this design is in the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels, exhibited Chinese Export Porcelain, Hong Kong, 30 November 1989 - 27 February 1990, no. 64.