A Pair of Louis XV Platters from the Orloff Service
Maker’s mark of Claude-Pierre Deville, Paris, 1771-1772, essay marks St. Petersburg 1784, essay master Nikifor Moschalkin, essay scrape, engraved and stamped inventory numbers 7 and 9
Shaped oval with moulded rims, engraved with the Russian Imperial arms, 49cm by 33.5cm, 3720gr
Commissioned by Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia (r.1762-1796) through her art advisor in Paris, Etienne-Maurice Falconet (1716-1791), then given by her to
Count Gregory Orloff (1734-1783) in 1772
Re-acquired by Catherine the Great in 1784; then by descent to
Czar Nicholas II (r.1894-1917), until 1917
The Soviet Government, sold by them circa 1930
Baron A. de Foelkersam, Inventaire de l’argenterie conservée dans les garde-meubles des palais impériaux, St. Petersburg, 1907
The Orloff Service is the grandest of the silver services commissioned by Catherine the Great in the eighteenth century. Intended as a service for sixty persons, it was delivered to the Empress between 1771 and 1775. The size of the service when originally supplied is not known but it is thought to have numbered at least 3,000 pieces including eight soup tureens, eight pots à oille and forty-eight dozen plates.
In 1772 she presented it to Count Gregory Orloff, her lover, who had helped depose her husband Emperor Peter III. In 1776, however, Orloff fell from favour and left Russia for exile. After his death in 1783 Catherine reacquired the service.
“… by 1907 when Baron A. de Foelkersam published his imperial silver inventory, 2,000 of the original 3,000 pieces had disappeared, believed to have been melted down in the 19th century. Now the Soviets began selling off much of the rest of the service … Today just 169 pieces of the orininal 3,000-piece Orlov Service are in Russia – 46 at the Hermitage and 123 at the Kremlin’s Armory Museum. Two hundred and thirty pieces of the service have been identified in institutions outside Russia, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, and Musée Nissim de Camondo in Paris.” (Susan Jaques, The Empress of Art, 2015).
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