This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Gordon Lewis, The Fine Arts Conservancy Frames are often the first definitive link between artist and collector; historically, collectors would reframe a painting upon its acquisition, placing their own personal stamp upon it. Unfortunately, in the process, many important period frames were consigned to the trash heap without any realization that they would eventually be viewed as great works of art in their own right, with truly major examples often commanding in excess of six figures in today’s market. The truth is that, because so many were disposed of, they have become exceedingly rare just at a time when they are finally recognized as great works of decorative art. This recognition of their significance was cemented several years ago in an exhibition of period frames in the Lehman Galleries of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other museums have since mounted exhibitions of extraordinary frame collections, however, they are becoming so very rare that some of the finest frames in our collection will never be seen on the market again. There is no hope of replacing them. The term “period frames” refers to periods of art history rather than calendar dates, and today, many collectors want a frame reflecting the period and geographic origin of their art (such as a Dutch 18th century painting is ideally framed in an 18th century Dutch frame). Frames of each epoch always incorporate popular architectural and design concepts of that era and one can often identify them by these features. However, that identification technique blurs in the late 16th century through the 19th century, when artisans and architects traveled freely between European nations, taking their design concepts with them. Europeans and Americans also traveled extensively, bringing paintings and frame design concepts home with them. For example, without identifying the morphology of the frame’s wood, it is nearly impossible to distinguish some 19th century American frames from English or French frames of the same period. Additionally, some styles were so popular throughout late Renaissance and Baroque Europe that it is almost impossible to definitively identify between some German, French, Italian and Spanish 18th century frames. Amusingly, recently made frames of contemporary 20th century design are, in fact, period frames; simply from our own period. These present-day frames reflect our contemporary design and architectural aesthetic in the same way that earlier period frames echoed their own time.
In a fascinating twist, we are finding that contemporary art, framed in early period frames, is a sensational look in both contemporary and traditional homes. In traditional homes, they ease the visual transition from the art to the interior design, and in contemporary homes the antique frame, while complimenting the art, provides a marvelous visual counterpoint to contemporary interior design. It is important to remember that one of the frame’s critical functions is to enhance the piece; the wrong frame can visually ruin the art. Clients have come to us saying they do not like a work, only to find they love it after it is placed into a frame that brings out its true quality.