This plate is from the dessert-service ordered by Louis-René-Edouard Prince de Rohan-Guémenée (1734-1803) in 1771, the year of his appointment as Ambassador Extraordinary to the Viennese Court by Louis XV. The prince entertained in Vienna on an infamously grand scale and the lavish decoration of the service would have been well suited to his extravagant lifestyle. The scandals associated with the future cardinal meant that he did not gain much favour with Empress Maria Theresa and earned the enmity of the future King and Queen of France, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Shortly after Louis XV's death in 1774, Rohan was ordered to return to France where, in spite of being met by a cold reception, he was appointed Grand Almoner of France, Cardinal of Sainte Eglise Romaine (1778) and subsequently Bishop of Strasbourg and the Saint Empire in 1779.
The service was delivered by Sèvres on 7 September 1772 at a cost of 20,772 livres, and it consisted of 368 pieces, with each plate costing 36 livres. The prince de Rohan took up residence in Vienna on 6 January 1772, and the service was delivered to him nine months later. The painters known to have been entrusted with the painting of the scenes of birds were Antoine-Joseph Chappuis, Etienne Evans, Jean-Armand Fallot, Pierre-Joseph Rosset and François-Joseph Aloncle.
For an extensive discussion of this service and an entry for fifty-four pieces of this service that were at one time in the Wrightsman Collection, see Carl Christian Dauterman, The Wrightsman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art Catalogue, Greenwich, 1970, Vol. IV, pp. 261-271. See also Geoffrey de Bellaigue, French Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, London, 2009, Vol. II, pp. 620-622, nos. 157 & 158 for a trial plate (which is lacking the oak tree) and three further plates from the service.
Jean-Armand Fallot was a gilder and painter of birds, patterns and ground colours active at Sèvres from 1764 to 1790. A pair of plates from this service, painted by Fallot, were sold in these Rooms on 8 November 1999, lot 127.