Silver tureen, Jacques-Nicolas Röettiers, Paris, 1770-1771. Estimate : €1,500,000 – 2,000,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.

PARIS.- Christie’s presents for sale magnificent silver with a Russian imperial provenance. These pieces include a superb soup-tureen on stand and a set of four massive candlesticks from the Orloff service which represents a crucial milestone in the history of French silver. They will be the highlight of the “Le Goût Français” sale to be held on 8 November 2013. 

Commissioned in 1770 by Empress Catherine II of Russia from the finest Parisian silversmith of the time, Jacques Röettiers (1707-1784) and his son Jacques-Nicolas Röettiers (1736-1788), the service comprised more than 3,000 pieces. It is one of the earliest expressions of the Neo-classical style in silver. Items from this this legendary service have occasionally appeared at auction, however, it has been more than 20 years since such a significant group has been presented to the international market. 

Marine de Cenival, Senior Specialist, Silver department: “Christie’s is pleased to unveil the previously unpublished collection featuring the finest French silversmiths of the late 18th century. This is the first time that we have presented such a prestigious group of silver in Paris, a group which displays the talents of the silversmiths Roëttiers, Auguste, Delanois, Mongenot and Charles Spriman. This sale promises to be a major event for those who appreciate and admire the finest French silver.” 

The service was originally commissioned by Empress Catherine the Great for her personal use, however, she later offered it as a gift to her lover Count Orloff (1734-1783). Orloff had played a pivotal role in the plot to depose Catherine’s husband Emperor Peter III in 1762. On the death of the Count some twenty years later she repurchased the service from the Count’s heirs and it remained in the imperial collection until the sales held by the Soviet government in 1930s. Much of the service was acquired by the leading dealers of the day, including Jacques Helft, with many pieces finding their way into the greatest collections of the time, such as those formed by the Rothschild, Camondo and Ortiz-Patino families. Pieces from the Orloff service can also be found in the collections of theMetropolitan Museum, New York, The Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Louvre in Paris. 

The silversmith Jacques Röettiers received the commission through the renowned sculptor and art advisor Etienne-Maurice Falconet and completed the work in an extraordinarily short period of only 18 months. It is regarded as one of the earliest and greatest expressions in silver of the Neo-classical style which flourished in France during the reign of King Louis XVI. The Neo-classical works of the Parisian silversmiths were revered throughout Europe. The royal courts of Great Britain, Sweden and Russia all acquired services in this new style. 

Only a fraction of the service now survives. This sale will include a magnificent soup tureen, cover and stand (estimate €1,500,000-2,000,000) and a set of four candlesticks from the service (estimate €500,000-800,000). The Francophile taste of Catherine the Great is further demonstrated by the pair of wine coolers from her Kazan service commissioned from Robert Auguste (estimate €400,000-600,000) and a pair of dish covers and with assorted German dishes from the Nijni Novgorod service (estimate €60,000-80,000) which will also be offered for sale. 

Le Goût Français

Le Goût Français is a sale held twice a year as a showcase for the finest European Decorative Arts from the 13th to 19th centuries. Christie’s specialists will present masterpieces from the field of porcelain, silver, furniture, sculpture and works of art. The next sale on the 8th November will include exceptional Louis XVI silver, medieval statuary, important furniture from the 18th century and sought-after porcelain with a Royal provenance.


Soupière et flambeaux en argent de Jacques et Jacques-Nicolas Röettiers, Paris 1770-1771. Estimations: 1,5 à 2 millions euros pour la soupière et 500 000 à 800 000 euros pour les flambeaux. Vente Christie’s Paris, 8 novembre 2013. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.


Tureen with stand from the Orloff Service, 1770–71. Jacques-Nicolas Roettiers (Flemish, master 1765, active until 1777, died 1788), French; Paris. Silver. (ab) H. 11 in. (27.9 cm), W. 11 3/4 in. (29.8 cm), L. 15 3/8 in. (39.1 cm); (c) H. 2 7/8 in. (7.3 cm), Diam. 18 3/8 in. (46.7 cm). Rogers Fund, 1933 (33.165.2a-c). The Metropolitan Museum of Art  © 2000–2013 The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Two scallop-shell dishes from the Orloff Service, 1772–73. Jacques-Nicolas Roettiers (Flemish, master 1765, active until 1777, died 1788), French; Paris. Silver. (.386) H. 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm), W. 4 3/4 in. (12.1 cm), L. 5 1/8 in. (13 cm); (.387) H. 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm), W. 5 in. (12.7 cm), L. 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm). Bequest of Catherine D. Wentworth, 1948 (48.187.386,.387). The Metropolitan Museum of Art  © 2000–2013 The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Pot à oille en argent. Poinçons de Jacques-Nicolas Rœttiers, maître en 1765, 1770-1771. Argent. Inv. CAM 252 © Les Arts Décoratifs


PAIRE DE CLOCHES COUVRE-PLATS DU SERVICE ORLOFF en argent, de forme ronde, à décor de godrons et guirlandes de feuilles de laurier, la bordure ornée d'une moulure de filets enrubannés, le frétel en forme de pomme de pin posée sur une terrasses de feuilles d'acanthe bordée d'une moulure d'oves. Par Jacques-Nicolas ROETTIERS, reçu Maître en 1765 Paris, 1771 Sur l'une : poinçon de St Petersbourg, 1781 L'une, numérotée «N° 42». Poids : 1 752 g L'autre, numérotée «N° 62». Poids : 1 856 g Marquées sur la tranche : LHF (vraisemblablement la marque de Léon Helft) Hauteur : 20 cm Diamiètre : 26 cm. Résultat : 125 000 €. GROS & DELETTREZ. 07/04/11



Circulaire, la bordure à filets enrubannés, le corps formé de larges godrons et appliqué d'une guirlande de feuilles de laurier et baies, la prise en pomme de pin sur terrasse de feuilles d'acanthe torses bordée d'oves, le présentoir circulaire uni à bordure d'oves, poinçons dans la bordure d'une cloche: charge, trace de jurande, striche et chiffre 18 gravé et estampé ; dans la cloche: jurande (lettre H); sur le bord: décharge des ouvrages d'argent passant à l'étranger, poinçon de ville pour St Petersbourg et titre; poinçons dans la bordure de la seconde cloche: charge, jurande, maître-orfèvre, striche et chiffre gravé et estampé 31; sur le bord: décharge des ouvrages passant à l'étranger, poinçon de ville pour St Petersbourg daté 178? et titre; poinçons sous le centre des présentoirs: titre et maître-orfèvre; sous le bord d'un présentoir: striche, chiffre 68 gravé et estampé et inscription 3 50½; sous le bord du second présentoir: striche, chiffre 80 gravé et estampé et inscription 4 14¼; toutes les pièces portent aussi un poinçon ovale LFH. Diamètre des cloches: 28 cm. (11 in.); Diamètre des présentoirs: 34 cm. (13 3/8 in. Poids de la cloche chiffrée 18: 2052 gr. (72.40 oz.); poids de la cloche chiffrée 31: 2018 gr. (71.15 oz.); poids des présentoirs: 2302 gr. (81.20 oz.) (4). Price Realized €272,250


THE ORLOFF SERVICE: A HIGHLY IMPORTANT PAIR OF LOUIS XV SILVER WINE COOLERS. Mark of Jacques-Nicolas Roettiers, Paris, 1770. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2002

Each vase form, on spreading circular foot with waterleaves, the neck with broad flutes above a row of pearling, the shoulder applied with garlands of ivy above gadrooning, the handles of stylized scrolling snakes with acanthus and pendant husk, the rim with band of laurel; marked with charge and export discharge of Julien Alaterre; also with Russian hallmarks for St. Petersburg 1784, standard mark 91, and assaymaster Nikifor Moschalkin; one with engraved and stamped inventory number 6 marked with French marks in interior and inside footrim, one with inventory number 11 marked with French marks under base and inside footrim; both with export discharge on outer footrim and later French control marks on rim and foot; 10½in. (26.6cm.) high; 304oz. (9468gr.) (2). Price Realized $933,500