This ladle appears to be one of a pair listed in the 1817 Odiot account as "2 id [i.e.cuillers] á l'oille id [? richée brunie] 24fr."
The Demidoff Service, one of the best known of the great French dinner services of the first quarter of the 19th century, was purchased from Odiot by Count Nikolai Demidoff between 1817 and 1820. The service remained in the family until 1863, when it was sold to Hancocks. Alfred de la Chapelle bought it shortly thereafter and had it engraved or applied with his arms.
Count Nikolai Demidoff was born near St. Petersburg in 1773. He had a successful military career from an early age. In 1794 he was made a Gentleman of the Bedchamber. He married into the Stroganoff family and developed mines and ironworks on his own lands. When Napoleon invaded Russia, Demidoff raised his own regiment and fought at the battle of Borodino. His collection of paintings survived the burning of Moscow and he donated them to Moscow University. In 1815 he moved to Paris where his home was the center for leading figures in the academic and literary world. Later he moved to Italy where he built the Villa of San Donato. Demidoff's son, Prince Anatole San Donato, married Jerome Bonaparte's daughter and took over the Villa on his father's death in 1828. In 1859 Anatole moved to Paris, and from 1863 parts of the collection were sold including the silver-gilt dinner service.
The service was then owned briefly by the English dealer C. F. Hancock and sold in turn to Alfred de la Chapelle (1830-1914) whose arms were added to it. It is quite possible that Demidoff, de la Chapelle and C. F. Hancock knew each other, as they all moved very much in the same social circles in France at this period. De la Chapelle was a colorful explorer, adventurer, soldier, journalist and politician. As a young man he joined the Californian gold rush but made his fortune at Coscopera in Mexico in the 1850s. In 1859 he returned to France but in the following year emigrated to Australia where by 1867 he was back in the mining industry. In the same year that he purchased the service, he acknowledged an illegitimate son, Octave Xavier Alfred, born to the 20 year old Kate Royal. In 1889 the birth of their second child was recorded at the French consulate in Dublin. He died in Essex in 1914 when the service was presumably purchased by the anonymous 'Gentleman of Title' who sold it at the Anderson Galleries, New York, 1928.
We are grateful to the French heraldry expert, Philippe Palasi, for sharing with us his discovery that the arms on the Demidoff service are those of de la Chapelle.