The Cyrillic inventory numbers and label on the reverse of this commode indicate that it came from Gatchina Palace, near St. Petersburg. The same type of marks appear on a magnificent pair of Louis XVI Svres porcelain vases sold Christie's New York, 13 October 1996, lot 437, and were probably applied as part of the 1862 inventory of the palaces contents. The records of this inventory are now unfortunately incomplete and it is not possible to verify when the commode was supplied to the palace.
The blue-painted marks were applied by the Soviet Government as part of the 1926 inventory of all Imperial property. The government held a mammoth series of sales (numbering almost 150,000 items from the inventory) between 1929 and 1932 at Rudolph Lepke in Berlin.
Gatchina Palace, located 30 miles outside St. Petersburg, was purchased by Catherine II and presented to her lover Prince Gregory Orlov with 1700 acres of parkland in 1766. Built originally to the classical design of Antonio Rinaldi (1706-1796), it was later altered and redecorated by Vincenzo Brenna, when Paul I inherited the palace in 1783. Following his death in 1801, his son Alexander I occupied the palace- it was probably during this period that this commode was commissioned. Gatchina continued to be a favoured residence of the Tsars throughout the 19th century.