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Biography: Dr. Karen L. Kettering

Dr. Karen L. Kettering

Dr. Karen L. Kettering, associate curator of Rus­sian art at the Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C., worked on a survey of major developments in Russian glass production from the 18th to early 20th centuries, based on objects in the Hillwood col­lection.

Dr. Kettering, who earned her Ph.D. degree in art history from Northwestern University, joined the Hillwood Museum in 1998. Her principal publica­tions to date had concerned the Russian Imperial Porcelain Factory, an institution at times joined with the Russian Imperial Glassworks, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her Rakow Grant–supported project resulted in a book on Russian glass at Hill­wood and several scholarly articles.

“Although Anglo-American scholars have pro­duced a number of sophisticated studies of sever­al branches of Russian applied arts, glass has re­mained an almost untouched field,” Dr. Kettering stated in her application for the grant. “Among its large collection of Russian decorative arts, the Hill­wood Museum possesses over 500 pieces of Rus­sian glass dating from the 18th to 20th centuries. The selection of objects ranges from luxury goods produced for the imperial court and the nobility at the Imperial, Iamburg, and Bakhmetev glassworks to simpler wares mass-produced for the middle classes at the Maltsov and other large concerns. Be­cause of its breadth and excellence, Hillwood’s col­lection of Russian glass can easily serve as a basis for a nearly comprehensive history of the topic.”

Eighteenth-century aspects of Dr. Kettering’s study included the development of the Russian glass industry, imperial patronage of the Imperial and Iamburg glassworks, and the influence of Bo­hemian and Saxon imports on the unique charac­ter of Russian glass. She also focused on two key developments in the 19th century: the rise of an urban middle class, which created a ready market for new glass forms and decoration; and ornamental schemes created by the Imperial Glassworks to com­plement the interiors of newly built palaces, the most important of which may be the “style russe.”

Dr. Kettering’s book concluded with a dis­cussion of the impact of industrialization on the Rus­sian glass industry and how it redefined the “style russe” in glass.