Acquisition of a rare piece of the Orleans service

9th of December 2014

Thanks to the Christian Bauwens Fund, a gondola-shaped dish that was formerly part of the service in Tournai porcelain made for the Duke of Orleans, at the end of the 18th century, is now part of the MRAH collections.

The Duke of Orleans commissioned a prestigious service of 1596 pieces in soft porcelain from the Tournai workshop. Made between 1787 and 1792, the service was decorated with birds and insects taken directly from Buffon’s Histoire naturelle. The British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has 600 pieces of this service at Windsor Castle. It is the only collection in which one can still admire four very rare shapes of porcelain, the rarest of which is this gondola-shaped dish. The rather strange shape enabled a cup and sugar bowl to be presented in it. Whilst there are 6 such dishes in Windsor Castle, up to now no Belgian museum had an example in its collection. So it was natural that the Christian Bauwens Fund should seize the opportunity to bring back such an exceptional piece of our heritage to Belgium. The dish will become part of the rich collection of the Royal Museums of Art and History, which will present the reference collection of the Duke of Orleans’s service in Belgium.