A spectacular soup tureen with Russian imperial provenance is expected to highlight Christie's Le Gout Francais sale on November 8 in Paris.
The piece originates from the Orloff service which, according to Christie's, "represents a crucial milestone in the history of French silver". It will sell with a $2m-2.7m estimate.
The Orloff service was commissioned in 1770 by Empress Catherine II of Russia from Jacques Roettiers (1707-1784), the finest Parisian silversmith of his time. Together with his son, Jacques-Nicholas Roettiers (1736-1788), they created more than 3,000 pieces in the neo-classical style.
Although intended for the empress' personal use, Catherine later presented it to her lover Count Orloff (1734-1783), who had played an important part in the plot to dispose her husband, Emperor Peter III.
However, after his death, Catherine repurchased the set from his heirs, and it remained in the imperial collection until being sold by the Soviet government in the 1930s. It has since passed through the hands of some of the most renowned dealers and collections, as well as New York's Metropolitan Museum, the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in St Petersburg.
Also selling in the auction is a set of four candlesticks from the service, estimated at $675,770-1m. A further example of Catherine the Great's French tastes is presented in the form of a pair of wine coolers from her Kazan service, which was commissioned from Robert Auguste ($540,616-810,924).
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