The cylindrical shape of the cup is derived from the Berlin prototype cup known as Englisch Glatt.
The decoration on the cup and saucer is similar to that used on pieces from the Coronation Service produced to celebrate Paul I's ascent to the throne on 5 April 1797. All pieces from the Coronation Service feature the large Imperial double-headed eagle with a dual coat of arms on its breastplate. These were the Russian coat of arms paired with the arms of the Duchy of Holstein-Gottorp. Pieces from the Coronation service are extremely rare, even in Russian museum collections.
The design of the Coronation Service itself was inspired by the large porcelain table service commissioned by Friedrich II from the Berlin Factory for the Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich, see lot 156 in the present catalogue. The Englisch Glatt moulds were first used for the execution of this service; the black Imperial double-headed eagle was the main decorative element of the porcelain service (see Kazakevich, 2003 a, p. 147).
The present cup and saucer features the Russian coat of arms incorporating the Maltese Cross. On 29 November 1798, Lorenzo Litta included the crown of the Grand Master of the Maltese Order and entrusted the Russian Emperor with the regalia of the Order. According to the Russian Emperor's ordinance, the image of the Maltese Cross was introduced into the Russian coat of arms and the state seal.
The exceptionally high level of artistry, as well as the gilt ciselé mark on the back of the cup and the saucer, underlines the fact that the cup and saucer were executed on special Imperial order and were intended for the Emperor's private use only.
Porcelain items featuring the coat of arms used during the reign of Paul I incorporating the Maltese Cross are extremely rare, see:
I. R. Bagdasarova et al., 'Heraldry in the art of Russian porcelain from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum', Exhibition catalogue, Heraldy on Russian Porcelain, St Petersburg, 2008, pp. 20-21.