Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Picture frames are works of art too!

Chers Amis de l’Ecole du Bon Goût, Bonjour. The evolution of “picture framing” had its beginnings with the simple raised moldings of the outer edges of Gothic religious paintings on wood panels and evolved through numerous creative incarnations to frames becoming important works of art in themselves.

True respect and scholarly interest in “picture frames” is a fairly recent notion. We only need to look to the auction catalogues to see masterpiece paintings illustrated for sale, photographed without their frames. In many cases their unshown frames were works of art in themselves.

Another curious example of the original framing not being valued even in the early 19th century can be seen at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier. I adore visiting this important museum begun in 1825 by M. François-Xavier Fabre who, besides being a discriminating collector, was a very talented painter in his own right. However his superb collection of old master paintings dating from the 16th century on to his own time were reframed by him in then “contemporary” 1825 bois doré framing. Although one can say this gives a sense of uniformity to this diverse collection, to my eyes it is jarring. To see a fantastic 17th century painting in C 1825 frame to me is like seeing a beautiful aged grandmother dressed as a newborn child!  

See attached a series of photographs illustrating the evolution of French picture framing from Louis XIII (B:1601-D:1642) to its zenith in the Louis XV ( B:1710- D:1774 ) period when the cost of the elaborate frame equaled or in some cases exceeded that of the artwork it framed! From there the evolution returned again to more classical design sources of a more “tailored” architectural mode.  

Following this pictorial evolution, see photos of artwork and mirrors now at Au Vieux Paris Antiques, for which the frames themselves are a major contributing work of art. With 50+ mirrors and 24+ oil paintings in stock, the shop contains a virtual “history of framing” exhibition, so plan a visit soon or visit the website at www.auvieuxparisantiques.com    

Mes amitiés,
Robert E. Smith

The following photos are of items for sale here at Au Vieux Paris which are expressions of the Art of Framing

Visit the Au Vieux Paris Antiques homepage (click here)
Browse a sampling of the merchandise available (click here)

Mes amities,
Robert E. Smith   (337) 332-2852


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