On Saturday, November 12, Dr. Karen Kettering presented “The Afterlife of Fabergé: Fauxbergé and More” as a part of the Russian History Museum’s Second Saturday online lecture series.
Over a century after the firm of Fabergé was forced to shutter its business, its name is known worldwide and continues to attract thousands of visitors to museum exhibitions, auctions, and conferences. This outcome is somewhat surprising, particularly if we consider the obscurity into which many of Fabergé’s competitors have fallen. To understand why this name remains so well known, Dr. Karen Kettering traced the efforts of dealers like Armand Hammer to promote the name of Carl Fabergé and how Hammer Galleries and others were aided by the international press and even the Soviet government.
Their success in creating a new and thriving market inevitably led to the appearance of newly made fakes as well as older or similar objects altered to deceive incautious buyers. This is hardly surprising. The faking of art has a long and distinguished history and these false (or misidentified) works by “Fabergé” fall into the same groups we see for forgeries by other artists and artisans. Kettering examined the often amusing strain of Fabergé-style works dubbed “Fauxbergé” by noted specialist Dr. Géza von Habsburg as well as skillfully altered objects by Fabergé, his competitors, and later jeweler-enamellers. The lecture concluded with a brief overview of some of the techniques and resources collectors, curators, and scholars use when assessing a work of art.
About the Speaker
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 currently heads an art advisory and appraisal firm.