The crest of a marten, a rebus for the name Martin, suggests this service may have been made for the English merchant banking family of that name. See D. S. Howard, Chinese Armorial Porcelain, 1974, p.335.
The design, representing 'Autumn', has been taken from a set of allegorical depictions of the seasons, designed by C.P. Cipriani, engraved by Francesco Bartolozzi and published by Pergolesi, London, in 1782. See the following lot for an example of another piece from this service with a design representing 'Summer'; it is very likely that pieces with 'Spring' and 'Winter', were ordered as well. A detail of the engraving for 'Autumn' and a pierced basket in the McCann Woolworth Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, together with a chestnut dish with pierced cover from the same collection but in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, are illustrated by M. Beurdeley, Porcelain of the East India Companies, London, 1962, cats. 63b, 63a and 128, and by J. G. Phillips, China-Trade Porcelain, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1956, pp. 164-165. fig. 55 and plate 75. Compare also the smaller dish in the British Museum, exhibited Ancient Chinese Trade Ceramics, Taipei, 1996, no.66; and a dish is illustrated by Hervouët and Bruneau, La Porcelaine des Compagnies des Indes à Dècor Occidental, Paris, 1986, fig.13.97, together with a plate from the 'Summer' service as fig.13.96. A very similar dish to the present lot was sold in these Rooms, 5 April 2000, lot 82.