The Swan service was ordered by Heinrich Graf von Brühl (1700-1763), Prime Minister of Saxony and Director of the Meissen porcelain factory from 1733-63. Count Brühl commissioned the service in 1736 following his marriage to Maria Anna Franziska von Kolowrat-Krakowska in April 1734 and almost every piece is painted with the marriage arms of the couple. The moulded decoration was carried out by Kändler with the assistance of Eberlein, and Kändler began work on the larger pieces for the service in the summer of 1737. It would appear to be the largest service produced in the 18th century and Rainer Rückert (Meissener Porzellan 1710-1810, Munich, 1966, p. 118) estimates its original size to have been between 2,200 and 2,400 pieces. Much of the service remained in the possession of the Brühl family until after the Second World War, although from around 1880 pieces were lent to museums in Dresden and Berlin so that by 1900 around 1,400 pieces remained at the family's Silesian seat, Schloss Pförten. The pieces that remained at the castle were either destroyed along with the castle, or stolen, at the end of the Second World War. For an extensive discussion of the Swan service see Walter Fellman et al., Schwanen service, Meissener Porzellan für Heinrich Graf von Brühl, Exhibition Catalogue, Dresden, 2000. A Swan service putto and dolphin salt of a different form was sold in these Rooms on 1 March 1993, lot 149.
Christie's has commissioned a scientific analysis of the enamels used on this salt. The test was carried out by Kelly Domoney of the Centre for Archaeological and Forensic Analysis at Cranfield University, using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) techniques . The result of the test on the enamels on this object is consistent with the published data for enamels on other 18th century Meissen porcelain.