Friday, 31 July 2015

National Gallery of Victoria - Frame Resource

I posted this link on my frame facebook page when I came across it a couple of weeks ago, it is such a good website that I thought I would also post it here. The National Gallery of Victoria has an excellent resource section on framemakers, antique frames, and associated paintings. Featuring a list of framemakers with works framed by them. Each work has a good selection of some or all of these images; with and without frame, the makers label, any canvas/panel labels, and a wonderful detailed cross section of the frame along with information about the frame style and construction.

The resource was compiled with the help of references from the extensive archive at the National Portrait Gallery run by Jacob Simon. Hopefully all museum collections will one day pay as much attention to frames, with the National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, and Yale Center for British Art currently leading the way.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Ornament and Surface Detail

A few more images of frames, ornament, and texture that caught my eye today...

Faux Bois Frame

I like this simple flat frame because it looks like oak, but is in fact a gesso frame that has been painted to imitate oak wood. This seems strange because oak is relatively inexpensive, so to replicate it by hand painting the wood seems rather unnecessary, still a nice example a faux bois frame, and not the type of work that you see everyday.

The book 'Collecting Picture and Photo Frames' by Stuart Schneider has a few examples of faux bois frames, the author also has a very detailed website with numerous photos of antique frames, mostly American but a few European examples. A really interesting site, and some frames are also for sale:

Wooden Antique Frames

I love to see the great variation of frame designs, ornament, and surfaces. These are all examples of wooden antique frames; a birds eye maple veneer, carved hardwood cassetta frame, and a carved (lime?) Louis XIII style frame.

Yale Center for British Art - Frame Collection

The Yale Center for British Art has done a wonderful job of making virtually its entire collection available online, and unlike most online images of paintings they include the frames. There is a dedicated frame search page, and it's a great resource for framers interested in historical styles and designs. Here is the full list:

An example of how useful it is to have frame images reproduced online is this British 18th Century frame that I have, with a very fine example above it seen in the Yale archive. This frame is clearly the same, probably by the same maker, and the images of the complete example would make it much easier to restore this frame to an original condition. It is not a particularly common design so a reference image and some information is invaluable.

Lots of Samples

Various frame corner samples that are in the process of being made.

Side Ornament

Ornament seen on the sides of various antique frames.

Frame Samples

I am slowly in the process of changing my frame samples so that they are mostly handmade, as this is the main part of my day to day framing work. I will still keep a small selection of pre-finished, off-the-shelf mouldings, but the vast majority will be made by me.

A Simple Black and Gilded Frame

Landscape or Portrait?

When the dimensions of a painting or frame are written down or spoken, the long established and almost universally accepted rule is height x width. This is the method used by fine art retail galleries, art dealers, public museums, auction houses, picture framers, and restorers.

For example when you see a size as 16" x 20" (or 40 x 50cm) you know straight away that the painting is landscape orientation, and when the size is 20" x 16" (or 50 x 40cm) you know it is portrait format. This is even more important when a mount is used (on a watercolour or print for example), as mount borders are almost always slightly bigger at the bottom. Some antique frames (such as tabernacle of trophy frames) can only be used in one format.
Many people think that it does not really matter which way round a size is, as long as you check every time someone gives you a size if the picture is landscape or portrait, or that every one who works with you knows which way round you record measurements. I think using the established format of HxW makes measuring paintings so simple and clear, and to me it makes sense that everyone in the art world uses this format to avoid embarrassing mistakes, and to not look slightly amateurish. For some reason many framing pricing programs, and computerised mount cutting software use width x height, which seems like very poor design indeed given that the art world standard is height x width.

Portrait Gallery by Richard Jolley Cartoonist.

Gesso Frames

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Rosebery's Frame Auction Press Release

It is great that Roseberys London auction house appears to be filling the gap for large frame auctions in the UK. While not a dedicated frame auction, a large number of frames featured, and hopefully this will continue to develop and become a regular event. Below is the after sale press release, detailing some of the sale highlights.
Dutch Antique Picture Frame Sale Success
Antique Picture Frames Achieve at Roseberys London Fine Art Auction
Wednesday 1 July 2015, London
London – Over 175 lots of Antique Picture frames of various styles featured in the 1 July Fine Art & Antique auction. The Antique frames section received thriving interest with 99 lots sold to bidders in the room, online and on the telephone totalling £83,228 (including Buyer’s Premium).
Paintings & Frames Director Marcus Grey said: “Roseberys sales of antique picture frames have been growing from strength to strength over the last year and we are delighted with the success of this sale which was largely focused on more academic Old Master frames than we have previously presented. We now have a good international client base and a large quantity of the frames were bought by American buyers. It was a very varied and interesting selection of frames, especially notable were the painted and ebonised 17th century Italian Cassetta frames, and Dutch nutwood and ripple moulded frames. These frames in most instances were in good original condition with the varied and elaborate techniques of construction visible on the reverse. The dimensions and proportions of many of the frames were very usable and the styles could transcend to compliment contemporary and modern pictures in addition to Old Master works.”
The auction highlight was a large and impressive 17th century Dutch ripple moulded & ebonised frame. The extensive layers of multiple ripple mouldings demonstrates the craftsmanship’s skill and expertise. At 89.5x67cm the frame’s size proved to be very desirable as it exceeded its £2,500- 3,000 estimate. After fierce bidding in the room and the telephone, it sold to an international client for £10,824. [Lot 858]
A further ripple frame which was strongly contested was a smaller ebonised 17th century Dutch frame, with an estimate of £1,500-2,000 the repetitive ripple moulding was complemented by a plain hollow. After heavy interest from Roseberys in-house online bidding platform, RoseberysLive and on the telephone, the successful bid came from a UK buyer on the telephone. It sold for £3,567. [Lot 894].
From the collection of Italian and Tuscan Cassetta frames included in the sale two reached noteworthy totals. The Cassetta frames box linear style and decorative design enhanced sumptuously painted Renaissance paintings, thus were sort after in the 17th century. Inspired by grand Italian doors and exteriors of the period, craftsmen designed frames to compliment the classical interiors it was to adorn. A 17th century decorative Tuscan painted, ebonised and parcel gilded Cassetta frame with hand- tooled foliate corners was contested between an internet buyer and the room, the latter of which successfully secured it for £2,706. [Lot 800].
A late 16th/early 17th century Italian ebonised and parcel gilded Cassetta frame, decorated with scrollwork centres and corners sold in the room for £2,952. [Lot 893].

The auction was held on Wednesday 1 July 2015, and full results can be found online at:
Further Highlights from the Auction
[Lot 785]
A Dutch Fruitwood Veneered Reverse Profile Frame, 17th century, the multiple wedge sections separated by ebonised reeded courses, 25x20.5cm
Sold for: £3,075

[Lot 861]
An Italian Ebonised and Parcel Gilded Cassetta Frame, 17th century, with cavetto sight, reverse ogee front edge, frieze, torus and reverse cavetto back edge, 66.7x50.5cm
Sold for: £2,091

[Lot 891]
An Italian Black Painted Cassetta Frame, late 16th/early 17th century, with stepped sight, frieze, cavetto and stepped hollow and torus to the front edge, 88x69.5cm
Sold For: £1,968

An English Carved and Gilded Swept Rococo Frame with Oval Aperture, mid 18th century, with later added spandrels mounted with applied shells and foliate festoons on a hand-tooled diaper ground, raked bud course, the hand-tooled hollow with foliate and flower head cartouche centres and corners and rope twist top edge, bears label for Arnold Wiggins & Sons Limited, London, attached to the reverse, 127x94cm
Sold For: £1,230

A Spanish Carved and Gilded Frame, 17th century, with cavetto sight, centre tied fruit and leaf, reverse hollow, the corners with applied foliate scrollwork and reverse cavetto back edge, 56x46.8cm
Sold For: £1,230

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Black Gesso Frame

This frame sample is covered in gesso, the base paint is red/brown with black on top. The paint is rubbed through, and then it is finished with shellac sealer and wax.


A selection of frame samples that I am trying to make in between doing lots of framing work.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Wide Oak Frame

This wide oak frame is one of a few samples we are making at the moment. This cassetta profile is 4" wide and is made up from three sections. The finish is stain, shellac, and wax.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Bole Colours

I've been painting gesso frames with various colours of bole today, ready to be gilded.

Friday, 3 July 2015

20th Century Master Framemaker

Here is another example of a Robert Sielle frame, I posted about this framemaker some time ago here: Gesso Consolidation

This frame is typically bold and interesting in shape and design, a reverse profile with flat inner section and deep scoop outer. It's in need of some filling and tidying up around the edges. I think it's really good that the original frame is being kept with the painting it was made for, and not discarded for something else. I dread to think how many of Sielle's frames have been removed in favour of something more fashionable, which is a great shame.

People Keep on Damaging Frames

Cassetta Frames in the National Gallery

My favourite antique frame styles are Italian and Spanish cassetta frames, here are a few I saw recently at the National Gallery in London.

Next Batch of Frames

A pile of frames that are the next batch to be made, most of these will be gilded all over.

Dark Silver and Painted Frame

Frames in Focus: Sansovino Frames Exhibition

I visited the National Gallery last week to see the Frames in Focus: Sansovino Frames exhibition. It was nicely presented and in a good central location within the museum. Unfortunately photographs were not allowed inside the exhibition, however a beautifully illustrated catalogue is available in the National Gallery shop. I believe and hope that this will be the first in a series of exhibitions dedicated to frame styles, and will help to make the importance of frames known to more people. I enjoyed the exhibition, however I am very interested in frames so it does not take much to please me. I spent about 25 minutes looking at the frames and quite a few members of the public walked in while I was in there, most looked a little uninterested and confused as to where the paintings were and walked out within seconds. A number did take the time to look round, so that was encouraging. The exhibition runs to the 13th September 2015 so still plenty of time to see it if you are visiting London.