A pair of Chinese armorial dishes for the French market (Philibert Orry, royal finance minister under Louis XV). Yongzheng period

With the arms of Orry, de gueule à un lion rampant et grimpant sur un rocher d’argent, in colors and gilt with a rocaille surrounded by a vividly enameled foliate border, the rim scalloped.

Period :
Yongzheng (1723-1735), ca. 1730
9.84 in. (25 cm)
Reference :

Related works

A large part of the service (32 pièces) is in the collection of the Musée de la Compagnie des Indes in Lorient, France (a dish is illustrated by Louis Mézin in Cargaisons de Chine, 2002, p. 162, no. 133).

A small part of the service was in the Lebel Collection (Christie’s, 17 january 2019, Chinese Export Art Featuring The Hodroff Collection Part IV, lot 386 – withdrawn / private sale).

A dish (from the Musée de la Compagnie des Indes) was showed at the exhibition “La Chine à Versailles” in 2014 (China in Versailles). Only two armorial services were shown, the service of Philibert Orry  (see no. 32 et no. 33 of the exhibition catalog), and the service of the King Louis XV.




Philibert Orry is the son of Jean Orry, who in 1701, at the beginning of the Spanish War of the Succession purchased his nobility and became a King’s Advisors of Louis XIV, who sent him to Spain. There, he joined the self-styled princesse des Ursins as de facto rulers of Spain. Towards the end of his term there, by a royal decree composed by Orry on 23 December 1713, traditional local governments (the Cortes) were centralized by the creation of twenty-one provinces. These Consejos Territoriales were superseded by an intendant directly responsible to Orry.

Philibert Orry served as a cavalry captain during the War of Spanish Succession, before becoming a member of the Parlement of Paris, then master of requests in 1715. He was an intendant in Lille (1715-1718), Soissons (1722-1727), and Roussilon (1727-1728).

Orry was named contrôleur général des finances (royal finance minister) in 1730 and combined this function with being director general of the Bâtiments du roi (“the king’s buildings”) in 1736, after the death of the duc d’Antin. Orry remained contrôleur général until 1745, making him the longest continuously-serving holder of the office in the eighteenth-century.

An able economist, Orry had to restore the dixième (“tenth”) tax and declared the venality of municipal officials, successfully balancing the budget in 1739-40. Applying the principles of Colbert, he sought to develop the domestic manufacture of textiles and paper, and was involved in the production of porcelain in Vincennes/Sèvres in 1740. He supported trade with Canada and the Indies by reforming the statutes of the Compagnie des Indes.

As director general of the Bâtiments du roi, he established the bi-annual public Paris Salon, and became the vice-protecteur of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture (“Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture”) in April 1737.

Facing opposition from Madame de Pompadour, Orry resigned in 1745. He was the Treasurer of the Order of the Holy Spirit from February 1743 to his death in 1747.

His Chinese armorial service is still present in 1747 in his Château de la Chapelle-Godefroy (the place were he retired) when he died (priced 12,000 pounds, Paris, Archives Nationales, Minutier centrale des notaires, XXIX / 477). After his death, his castle (where the King and Queen stayed in 1740) and his collections went to his brother, Jean Orry. Between July 1793 and the fall of 1794, the collections of the castle (including the Chinese porcelain service) were sold by the revolutionaries and dispersed.

His father and his half-brother also ordered armorial services from China and another relative, Pere Louis-Francois Orry, was the recipient of the very famous letters Pere d’Entrecolles wrote describing the manufacture of porcelain at Jingdezhen.


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