On August 8, Dr. Karen Kettering presented a lecture on the sumptuous vestments created for the coronation of Nicholas II and Alexandra Fedorovna. The lecture was part of the museum’s Second Saturday lecture series.
Vestments for clergy serving at coronation ceremonies are one of the most dazzling elements of the celebration. These pieces were designed to shine with extraordinary brilliance, and to be seen by the entire world. The vestments at the coronation ceremonies of Nicholas II and Alexandra Fedorovna were a stunning example of this luminosity.
Dr. Kettering spoke about the historical meanings of the vestments’ design, international press coverage of the ceremonies, and the work of the firm of A. and V. Sapozhnikov, the makers of the cloth used for the gowns, uniforms, banners, and hangings seen throughout the three weeks of festivities. The lecture concluded by tracing the fate of these and other vestments after 1917.
Karen Kettering received her doctorate in art history from Northwestern University. Her dissertation was a study of sculptor Natalia Dan’ko’s career in the late Imperial and Soviet periods. She has held positions as curator of Russian art at Hillwood Museum & Gardens and Senior Specialist in the Department of Russian Art at Sotheby’s. The author of studies on Russian and European decorative arts, design, icons, and paintings, her research has focused most recently on the creation of a market for Russian art in America and the history of Russian portrait diamonds. She is a co-curator of the exhibition Tradition & Opulence: Easter in Imperial Russia which is currently on view at the Museum of Russian Icons (and features a number of examples from the Russian History Museum’s collection). She currently heads an art advisory and appraisal firm.