This piece is part of a set consisting of a terrine, a pair of tureens with trays and four silver ice buckets. They bear the hallmarks of Jacques-Nicolas Roettiers, who became a Master in 1765. The oval terrine and circular tureens share the same design: the containers have fluted sides and are encircled with a laurel branch and supported by sturdy consoles decorated with a frieze of coin-like motifs. Two laurel wreaths form the handles; a gadrooned dome forms the lid. They are placed on curved stands decorated with alternating grooves and laurel leaves. The ice buckets were inspired by ancient vases: they are gadrooned and fluted, decorated with a row of beads and a torus molding of laurel leaves and surrounded by garlands of ivy, the emblem of Bacchus.
These pieces are part of a service for sixty people, commissioned from Roettiers and his father by Catherine II of Russia in 1770 and presented to Grigory Orlov in 1772. In addition to the 842 pieces delivered by Roettiers, others were copied by Russian silversmiths and the service ultimately comprised over three thousand pieces! With its bold, rounded style, the “Orloff” service is generally considered one of the earliest expressions of neoclassicism in silverware. Roettiers was less inspired by classical models, however, than by the remarkable silverware commissioned by Louis XIV and cast by the king himself at the end of his reign, which was familiar from many representations and continued to be greatly admired. On Orlov’s death in 1783, Catherine II bought the service back from his heirs, after which time it remained in the imperial collection until the October Revolution. Shortly before 1930, part of the service was sold by the Soviet government. Moïse de Camondo bought these pieces from the antiques dealer Jacques Helft in 1933.