The Art of the Frame

I am always in awe when I look at a carved frame, sometimes it’s the ‘stand out’ more than the subject that draws my attention.  Less so the dark wood and painted ones, it’s the 17th c onwards when the magnificent, gilded gems gained favour.  Frames were made for show, the presentation of the neutral gilt surround, subtly reflecting light and shadow, was designed to enhance the colours of the painting as well as the room.

Frames are complex. Construction required the skills of the joiner for the basic framing, the carver to create the form and the gilder to apply thin layers of gold or other metal leaf to a laboriously prepared gesso surface.  The gilder would burnish the gold surface to create a perfect hue and translucency to thoughtfully complement the painting or what was very expensive mirrored glass.

From the 17th c onwards frames became bolder, the carving deeper, as we see in the Italian carved Florentine framed mirror with its distinctive, deep bold, scroll and leaf decoration.

Antique Italian Carved Florentine Giltwood Mirror
Italian carved Florentine framed mirror
Antique Italian Carved Florentine Giltwood Mirror detail
Close up detail of the framework

The introduction of a plaster composition, or ‘compo’ in the 18th century extended the possibilities for more complex decoration, as seen in Campagna Collection’s offer of an early 18th c Georgian carved giltwood frame with foliated corners and strapwork decoration. These are fine examples executed by skilled artisans.

Look closely, the art of the frame maker is a joy to behold and always enhances a room!

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