The present 'pot pansu' of the second size is part of an extensive dinner, dessert, breakfast, tea and coffee service which was ordered by Philippe duc d'Orleans in 1787 and consisted of 1,603 pieces. Traditionally the service was said to have been commissioned following a wager between the duc d'Orleans and Louis XVI, though scholars now question the verity of this anecdote. However, the diversity and abundance of elaborate gilded borders, the use of coats of arms and grisaille portraits gives the service the air of a magnum opus. The extensive use of the comte de Buffon's Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux published in ten volumes between 1770 and 1786, parallels the production of services at Sèvres (see lot 15 in this sale). The print source for the studies on the present jug is taken from Vol. VI of Buffon's publication, plate 610 (illustrated left).
For a discussion of the service, much of which was purchased by the Prince of Wales (as Sèvres) between 18th July 1803 and 9th October 1806 from the dealer Robert Fogg, see Geoffrey de Bellaigue, Sèvres, Porcelain from the Royal Collection Exhibition Catalogue (London, 1979), pp. 25-27. See also Claire Dumortier and Partick Habets, Porcelain de Tournai, Le service d'Orléans (Brussels, 2004), pp. 134-135, fig. 3.75 and pp. 162-163 for the costing list for the commission.
The painting of the ornithological panels for the service are attributed to Jean-Ghislain-Joseph Mayer, a painter at Tournai since 1754 and chief painter from 1774.