This coffee-can and saucer forms part of a service made for Philippe duc d'Orléans in 1787. The ornithological designs were taken from the comte de Buffon's Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux published in ten volumes between 1770 and 1786. The painting of the panels for the service are attributed to Jean-Ghislain-Joseph Mayer (who began at Tournai in 1754, becoming the chief painter in 1774).
The service originally consisted of 1,603 pieces, and six dozen coffee-cans and saucers of this form and size were ordered as part of the original commission. The service was dispersed during the French Revolution, and the largest group of pieces is now in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, much of it having been purchased by the Prince of Wales (as Sèvres) between 18th July 1803 and 9th October 1806 from the dealer Robert Fogg. The Carlton House inventory of around 1826 lists six hundred and eighteen pieces. For a discussion of this service, see Geoffrey de Bellaigue, Sèvres, Porcelain from the Royal Collection Exhibition Catalogue (London, 1979), pp. 25-27, and also Claire Dumortier and Patrick Habets, Porcelaine de Tournai, Le service d'Orléans (Brussels, 2004), p. 158. A milk-jug from this service was sold in these Rooms on 31st March 2008, lot 26.