'Aux oiseaux de Buffon' table service for the Duke of Orléans
The table service ordered in 1787 by the Duc d'Orléans, cousin of Louis XVI, from the manufactory in Tournai comprised nearly sixteen hundred pieces, about eighty of which belong to the museum. This prestigious group consisting of twenty-seven different shapes, some in various sizes, attests to 18th-century table customs. Plates, burrer dishes, egg cups, gravy pots, salt cellar, sugar bowls and various other dishes were used at a dinner served in successive courses. Other pieces were used for meals taken in the bedroom (for example écuelles, two-handled consommé bowls) of for hot drinks served in the living room: tea, coffee, chocolate.
The decoration, inspired by the Sèvres manufactory, consists of birds copied faithfully from ornithology books by Buffon and Seligmann and placed in the centre of the piece or in a cartouche inserted in a neoclassical border. They reveal the taste for the exact sciences prevailing at that time.