Annotated Bibliography of Frame Publications,
1995 to 2017
By country: Britain and Ireland
Aidin, Rose, ‘Frame, Set and Match', Art Review, vol.53, April 2001, pp.62-5, 9 illustrations. An interview with the leading framemaker, John Jones, who has worked with Francis Bacon and Paula Rego.
Alabone, Gerry and Alastair Johnson, ‘Introducing the Bloomsbury Frameworks Project’, extract from the postprints of the David Harris Conservation Conference, 30 March 2007, pp.24-8, 8 illustrations. A short history of the Bloomsbury Frameworks, a London firm of framemakers established in 1837 and specializing in composition ornament, which remained in the hands of the Binning family until 2005, when the firm was incorporated into Joseph McCarthy (Fine Frames) Ltd, of Tonbridge Wells. The illustrations include various incarnations of trade cards and of Binning proprietors, along with photographs of the workshop before it was cleared and the 2,600 reverse boxwood moulds stored and used by their new owner.
Belsey, Hugh, 'Joshua Reynolds's Portrait of Mrs Walsingham', Georgian Group Journal, vol.9, 1999, pp.26-32. On Reynolds's portrait of Mrs Walsingham in its papier-mâché frame, publishing her correspondence with her father in May and June 1758 about choosing the frame: 'I have order'd a Famous Frame Maker to meet me at Reynolds's on Tuesday...'; 'The Picture is to be 20 Guineas & the Frame 4 Guineas... I own I think the Frame very reasonable, for I believe it will be very pretty. I saw some Models yesterday & bespoke one that I think very handsome.'
Bronkhurst, Judith, 'William Holman Hunt's visits to Egypt', Apollo, vol.148, November 1998, pp.23-29. On a frame of c.1861, designed by the artist, with decorative details copied from Owen Jones's The Grammar of Ornament, 1856.
Bronkhurst, Judith, William Holman Hunt: A Catalogue Raisonné, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006, 2 vols, with a very well illustrated appendix, ‘Frames designed or partially designed by William Holman Hunt', vol.2, pp.295-344. This comprises a short essay on Hunt's frames, a glossary of frame terms and a brief descriptive and historical catalogue entry for each of the 53 illustrated framed paintings. Further references to frames can be found in the main catalogue, and are noted in the ‘Index of Works', including entries for frame designs on p.361 under ‘ornamental designs'. Framemakers are included in the General Index.
Brothers, Hazel, 'Framing the Shibden Hall Portraits: A commission fulfilled by Anne Lister during an awkward stay in London 1833', Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society, vol.4, 1996, pp.111-25. A charming insight into the realities of having your portraits framed - by Millbourne & Sons, no.195 Strand, described in the Dictionary of English Furniture Makers as James Milbourne, jnr.
Bryant, Julius, ‘A Note on “Kent” frames’, in Susan Weber (ed.), William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, 2013, pp. 242-5, various illustrations. The note identifies the characteristics of a Kent frame, the 20th-century origins of the term, their early use at Ditchley, Houghton and Kensington Palace in the mid-1720s, and makers such as James Richards, John Howard and John Boson. One of the Kent frames carved by Richards for Raynham Hall, c.1730, is reproduced. See also Book review: William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, ed. Susan Weber | The Frame Blog
Cannon-Brookes, Peter, 'Picture Framing I: English Picture Frames in Three London Exhibitions, II: Leighton at the Royal Academy', Museum Management and Curatorship, vol.15, 1996, pp.218-25. Short reviews of Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean Britain (Tate Gallery), In Trust for the Nation: Paintings from National Trust Houses (National Gallery), Richard & Maria Cosway (National Portrait Gallery) and Lord Leighton (Royal Academy.
Cannon-Brookes, Peter, ‘Picture Framing: A Conversation Piece by Gawen Hamilton and its Frame', Museum Management and Curatorship, vol.17, no.4, 1998, pp.442-4, 1 figure. On a rediscovered family portrait, now in the Tate Gallery, painted to mark a wedding in 1734, and set in an 18th-century rococo frame ornamented with armorial bearings of the Bohem and Du Cane families.
Cannon-Brookes, Peter, ‘Elias Ashmole, Grinling Gibbons and Three Picture Frames', Museum Management and Curatorship, vol.18, no.2, 1999, pp.183-9, 3 figures. On the history of frames carved by Gibbons or his workshop in the 1680s for portraits of Ashmole, Charles II and James II in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Church, James, The Artist and the Framemaker: W. Elmer Schofield and H.W. Taylor, The Frame Blog, 8 July 2015. The American artist, W. Elmer Schofield (1865-1944), who painted a great deal in Cornwall, used H.W. Taylor for framing, c.1905-10, including for The Landing Stage, Boulogne, 1908-9 (Cincinnati Art Museum). This article includes a revealing letter with eight frame profiles, addressed by Taylor to Schofield in 1905, and reproduces frames for other Schofield’s work both by Taylor and Newcomb-Macklin, mainly in American collections including Cincinnati and Philadelphia.
Clark, Mary, '"A Principal Ornament for the Mayoralty House": A Portrait by Joshua Reynolds', Irish Arts Review, vol.15, 1999, pp.154-6. On Reynolds's 2nd Earl of Northumberland, 1766, in the Mansion House, Dublin, with its splendid rococo frame attributed to the Dublin woodcarver, Richard Cranfield.
Crook, Jo and Jacqueline Ridge, ‘The Process and Materials of Paintings by Howard Hodgkin', in Nicholas Serota (ed), Howard Hodgkin, exh. cat., Tate Publishing, 2006, pp.161-71. To avoid misunderstanding as to the role of his painted frames, Hodgkin's practice in recent years has been to stamp the reverse of his paintings, using an ink-pad stamp stating, ‘THE FRAME IS PART OF THE PAINTING'. A second stamp reads, ‘THIS PICTURE SHOULD NEVER BE VARNISHED'.
Crookshank, Anne, and the Knight of Glin, ‘Reflections on some 18th Century Dublin Carvers', in Terence Reeves-Smyth and Richard Oram (eds), Avenues to the Past: Essays Presented to Sir Charles Brett on his 75th Year, Belfast, 2003, pp.49-66, 18 illustrations. On the seminal figures for Irish carving of the Huguenot, James Tabary, and Edward Pierce's apprentice, William Kidwell, and examines dynasties of Dublin carvers, and the use of wood carving by Irish architects. Various examples of decorative carving are illustrated and documented, including John Houghton's looking-glass frames, and his trophy frames for portraits of Jonathan Swift and George II. The work of John Kelly is also discussed.
Curry,David, James MacNeill Whistler: Uneasy Pieces, University of Virginia Press, 2004, especially pp.206-7. A series of linked essays ‘exploring the intersection of Whistler's determined aestheticism with the commercial art world'. Whistler frames with blue painted decoration over gilded are juxtaposed to 16th and 17th-century Italian frames. Foord & Dickinson's Whistler designed frame on The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre, 1879, was originally intended for The Three Girls, c.1876, commissioned by Frederick Richards Leyland. As altered, it forms a savage portrait caricature of his former patron, painted with notes from Schubert's Moments Musicaux at the centre of the gilded flat on one side. In his 1883 exhibition of etchings at the Fine Art Society, Arrangements in White and Yellow, he used frames which were ‘white, plain, square in section with two light brown lines as their only relief'.
Day, Sarah Parkerson, ‘Framing & Connecting: Whistler, Freer and the Little Blue Girl’, in Erma Hermens et al. (eds), Connecting Whistler: essays in honour of Margaret F. MacDonald, 2010, pp.42-6, published online at www.gla.ac.uk/schools/cca/research/instituteofarthistory/publications/connectingwhistlerfestschriftforprofmacdonald/. On the relationship between Whistler and Freer. Freer framed 19 of Whistler’s pictures after the artist’s death, work which was carried out for him by James E. Hanna in 1903. He claimed to have ‘followed Mr. Whistler’s practice in framing and all are now of standard form and colour. The result is most beautiful… I have a capital workmen who makes the frames does the gilding etc under my own inspection’. The article also discusses the sentiment behind the frame on Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Little Blue Girl (Freer Gallery of Art, Washington DC) as connecting to the artist’s mourning for his departed wife.
Doran, Victoria, ‘Frith's frames and the business of frame-making', in William Powell Frith: Painting the Victorian Age, Guildhall Art Gallery, London, 2006, pp.157-60, 4 colour illustrations.
Gilbert, Christopher, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840, Furniture History Society and W.S. Maney & Sons Ltd, 1996, 502pp. Some seventy-five labelled picture, print and mirror frames and framemakers' labels are reproduced.
Glin, The Knight of, and James Peill, Irish Furniture: Woodwork and Carving in Ireland from the Earliest Times to the Act of Union, 2007, especially pp.70-9, 136-9, numerous illustrations. A definitive survey of Irish furniture, with two main sections on picture frames, the first on frames created by or in the circle of John Houghton, including the elaborate trophy frame for Francis Bindon's full-length Jonathan Swift, c.1735-40, the second devoted to Richard Cranfield (1731-1809). Appendix 1, pp.271-95, is a Dictionary of 18th-century Irish furniture makers by John Rogers.
Gott, Ted, et al., Modern Britain 1900-1960: Masterworks from Australian and New Zealand Collections, exh.cat., National Gallery of Victoria, 2007, 308pp. This catalogue has an introductory page on ‘Framing Modern Britain', which summarizes styles and practices amongst artists and institutions during the first half of the 20th century, and mentions framemakers such as Alfred Stiles and Robert Sielle. Some pictures are then illustrated in their frames, and marginal notes are added. These include the period and style (if antique), details of the manufacture and finish, the artist's preferences, and the framemaker, where known.
William Orpen's Night (no.2) is shown in its cut-down 18th-century French frame a few pages before Roger Fry's 1911 Still life: Jug and eggs in the painted border which Fry himself gave it. Charles Holmes's Black Hill Moss is illustrated in the Whistlerian frame made for it by Charles Chenil, and Chenil's frame label is illustrated as well. Chenil's frame also appears on Augustus John's portrait of his son, Robin, c.1918-19; in this case the design is John's own contemporary version of a Dutch ripple frame, where the pattern is impressed in compo and gilded (cf the ripple frame on Bernard Fleetwood-Walker's group portrait, Three boys, painted to resemble antique fruitwood). An original frame made by Alfred Stiles for Graham Sutherland's The Cliff Road appears, again with the maker's label, as does a Chapman frame plus label for a Glyn Philpot. Works by Bacon, Paul Nash, Epstein and Edward Burra are all shown in their frames. This is a welcome and exemplary trend in exhibition catalogues, and adds both to knowledge of the work and to the aesthetic enjoyment of the paintings.
Graham-Dixon, Andrew, 'Revealing neurosis of art at the edge', The Independent, 5 April 1999, p.7, originally published in the same newspaper, 5 April 1988. Andrew Graham-Dixon talks to the artist Howard Hodgkin about where the painting stops, referring to the work of Dürer, Degas and, of course, Hodgkin himself and his attitude to framing.
Hackney, Stephen, Rica Jones and Joyce Townsend (eds), Paint and Purpose. A study of technique in British Art, Tate Gallery Publishing, 1999. An excellent series of case studies of British paintings ranging in date from 1594 to 1958; frames are peripheral to the main subject but are reproduced and briefly discussed on works by John Michael Wright, Holman Hunt, Watts and Whistler. What is more, an illuminating letter to the Tate Gallery, 28 June 1979, in which Ben Nicholson set out his attitude to framing is quoted:
I have considered the frame which surrounds a work of mine as a vital part of its presentation. Therefore, I have always seen to the framing of my work myself . . .
1. Frames should be made of natural wood with little graining and of a colour which is not too hot, nor too yellow, and which is not stained or varnished.
2. The corners of the frame should not be mitred diagonally. The four sides should abutt each other, aligned so that the top side extends over the left side vertical and that the right-side vertical rises so as to extend over the side of the top lateral. Similarly, the left-side vertical is to extend across the end of the bottom lateral while the bottom lateral is to extend across the end of the right-side vertical.
Harrison, Colin, ‘An Exhibition at the Oxford Town Hall in 1854', The Ashmolean, no.47, Summer 2004, pp.12-13, 2 colour illustrations. On a watercolour by George Pyne, recently acquired by the Ashmolean Museum, depicting works by Millais, Holman Hunt and Charles Collins hanging in the Town Hall exhibition in 1854. Pyne's accurate reproduction of the paintings includes the original frames which can still be seen on Millais's Return of the Dove to the Ark and Collins's Convent Thoughts (both frames designed by Millais), and on Millais's James Wyatt and his Granddaughter. Wyatt, who probably put the exhibition together, was not only ‘the leading picture dealer in Oxford' but also a framemaker, who had worked for J.M.W. Turner.
Hickey, Dave, ‘The rules of the frame', Tate, Tate Gallery, Summer 2000, pp.38-41, 5 figures. On an exhibition of J.M.W. Turner's works with their frames removed, at Tate Liverpool, 2000; the author describes his similar exhibition of sixty unframed works from the 17th to the 20th century at the Dallas Museum of Art in the 1990s.
Houliston, Laura, ‘Frame Making in Edinburgh 1790-1830', Regional Furniture, vol.13, 1999, pp.58-77, 6 illustrations. An excellent survey of framemaking and leading Scottish framemakers in the period 1790-1830 with particular reference to their work for the three leading portraitists of the time, David Martin, Henry Raeburn and Archibald Skirving, and an appendix of Edinburgh makers of the period derived from trade directories.
Johnson, Alastair, ‘Re-altering the glazing alterations of a Burne-Jones frame’, in Conserving Context: Relating Object Treatment to Collections and Settings, ed. Gerry Alabone, 2014, pp.69-81, 10 illustrations. On the restoration of the original appearance of the frame of Burne-Jones’s King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid (Tate).
McDonnell, Joseph, ‘Continental stuccowork and English rococo carving at Russborough’, Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies, vol. 14, 2011, including a section, pp.120-4, ‘Identifying the carver at Russborough’, reproducing various Irish rococo frames. See also William Laffan, ‘Russborough Re-Framed’, Irish Georgian Society Newsletter, spring 2012, pp.11-13, in which the return to Russborough of two paintings in their elaborate original rococo frames is celebrated.
Massing, Jean Michel, and Aurélie Petiot, 'In the frame: Gert van Lon, C.R. Ashbee and the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge', Burlington Magazine, vol.154, June 2012, pp. 412-6, reproducing and discussing the mediaeval style oak frame made in about 1935 to Ashbee's design for a 16th-century painting by Gert van Lon, Madonna in the rosary, which Ashbee had given to King's College.
Mitchell, Paul, and Lynn Roberts, ‘Notes on Turner's Picture Frames', Museum Management and Curatorship, vol.17, 1998 (so dated but published 2000), pp.324-33, 2 illustrations. A survey of surviving original frames on Turner's work and of his attitude to framing, with a discussion of the framing of his work by the National Gallery, notably by John Ruskin, and a note on Turner's framemakers. A shorter version published as ‘Frames', in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford University Press, 2001, pp.113-14, 1 illustration.
Mitchell, Paul, and LynnRoberts, ‘Burne-Jones's picture frames', Burlington Magazine, vol.141, 2000, pp.362-70, 15 illustrations. A survey of the various frames designed or employed by Burne-Jones during his career.
Mitchell, Paul, and Lynn Roberts, ‘Stubbs's frames', pp.84-9, 4 colour illustrations, in Judy Egerton, George Stubbs, Painter: Catalogue Raisonné, Yale University Press, 2007. A short study of the styles of frame used by Stubbs and his more important patrons, including Josiah Wedgwood and the Prince of Wales. Also included are details, insofar as they are known, of his framemakers, frame prices, and Stubbs's recorded opinions on framing.
Mullhall, Susan, ‘Irish Frames and Frame Makers, 1660-1900’, in Nicola Figgis (ed.), Art and Architecture of Ireland, vol. II, Painting 1600-1900, 2014, pp.141-6, 11 illustrations. A survey article arranged chronologically, identifying changing styles and individual framemakers.
Murdoch, Tessa, 'Jean, René and Thomas Pelletier, a Huguenot family of carvers and gilders in England 1682-1726', Burlington Magazine, vol.139, 1997, pp.732-42, 7 illustrations of picture frames. On richly carved frames by the Pelletiers, c.1689-1709, mainly at Boughton House, and the wider context.
Murdoch, Tessa, ‘The king's cabinet-maker: the giltwood furniture of James Moore the Elder', Burlington Magazine, vol.145, 2003, pp.408-20, 21 illustrations. A detailed essay on the work of George I's cabinet-maker, who also furnished the houses of the Dukes of Montagu, Marlborough, Chandos, Buccleuch, Grafton and Manchester, and was in partnership with the looking-glass maker, John Gumley. The picture frames produced by the pair are discussed and illustrated, and the possibility suggested that Moore, rather than Kent, may have originated the eared frame in Britain.
Murdoch, Tessa, ‘A French Carver at Norfolk House: The Mysterious Mr Cuenot', Apollo, vol.163, June 2006, pp.36, 54-63, 11 illustrations. On the carver Jean Antoine Cuenot, who worked for the Duke of Norfolk at Norfolk House in the 1750s, most notably on the Music Room, now installed in the V & A. As well as decorative carving and furniture Cuenot also produced looking-glass and picture frames (now mainly in Arundel Castle).
O'Connor, Louise, 'Hamilton's pastel portraits: materials and techniques', in Anne Hodge (ed.), Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1740-1808): A Life in Pictures, exh.cat., National Gallery of Ireland, 2008, pp. 40, 50-53, 4 illustrations. The chapter on Hamilton's technique concludes with a short section on his picture frames which summarizes the three styles of Neoclassical frame used by the artist for portraits painted during his sojourns in Dublin, London and Rome respectively. Two Dublin framemakers are noted from labels remaining on the frames.
Oliver, Caroline, ‘Gilbert’s Frames and their Context in Guildhall Art Gallery’, in Spike Bucklow and Sally Woodcock (eds), Sir John Gilbert: Art and Imagination in the Victorian Age, Guildhall Art Gallery, 2011, pp.206-19, with chapters on 19th-century framing, composition frames, Gilbert and R. Dolman and Son, illustrating an entry from Dolman’s account with Roberson, and with 12 excellent illustrations of Gilbert’s frames.
Payne, John, ‘What's in a frame: the borders of Mortimer Menpes’, in Julie Robinson, The World of Mortimer Menpes: painter, etcher, raconteur, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2014, 247pp. See Payne’s essay, pp.182-5, the accompanying table of frames, pp.236-9, and also pp.48, 68, 82, 88. Mortimer Menpes’s innovative frames are the subject of a model survey by John Payne, with good illustrations. He identifies five or more frame types used by the artist over the space of 25 years: a Whistler type, c.1886; Japanese fluted frames of highly distinctive design, 1888-91, some of which were gilded in London by Grau; deep bevelled frames, 1891-2, made by Vacani in London; frames with wide hollows and top-edge reeding, 1893-7; and black Dutch moulding frames with wide hollows, 1903, some made by M. van Menk in Amsterdam. See also What’s in a frame: the borders of Mortimer Menpes, The Frame Blog, 6 January 2017.
Penny, Nicholas, ‘Exhibition Reviews: Italian art in the Royal Collection', Burlington Magazine, vol.149, November 2007, pp.795-8, 8 illustrations. This exhibition review devotes two paragraphs to the types of frames on these 16th and 17th-century paintings. The history of the Royal Collection means that frames from the 17th to the 19th centuries survive, including later adaptations of George III's ‘Maratta' frames. See also the catalogue of the exhibition itself by Lucy Whitaker and Martin Clayton, The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection: Renaissance and Baroque, 2007. The introduction to the latter includes (pp.25-6) a brief discussion of historic frames in the Collection, such as the blue-and-gold Mantuan frames recorded upon some of Charles I's purchases.
Roberts, Lynn, ‘John Brett's Picture Frames’, in Christiana Payne, John Brett: Pre-Raphaelite landscape painter, 2010, pp.185-9, eight illustrations. With sections on Brett’s leaf and other frame designs, 1857-85 (including his classic running vine leaf design), his rather narrower zig-zag frieze ‘Dolman frames’, 1873-95 (made by Dolman & Son) and other miscellaneous frames. All are in compo.
Roberts, Lynn, ‘Frames for Pictures by Ford Madox Brown, in Mary Bennett, Ford Madox Brown: A Catalogue raisonné, 2010, vol.2, pp.557-90. With sections on how Brown’s interests in frame design began, innovations in design and materials, archetypal Pre-Raphaelite frames, historical styles, Brown’s framemakers and studio frames, with a full catalogue of the individual frames in 16 styles with 43 illustrations.
Roberts, Lynn, 'Artists' Frames', in Stephen Calloway et al. (eds), The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900, V&A Publishing, 2011, pp. 184-7. A very short survey of frames relating to the aesthetic movement, circumscribed by the publisher's wish to give priority to images over text throughout the publication.
Roberts, Lynn, Pre-Raphaelite frames, More Pre-Raphaelite frames and A final look at Pre-Raphaelite frames, on frames in the exhibition, Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde, at Tate Britain (2012-3). Published by the Frame Blog.
Roberts, Lynn, see National Portrait Gallery - A note on Philip de Laszlo and picture framing
Roberts, Lynn, see National Portrait Gallery - Whistler's Correspondence
Roberts, Lynn, Van Dyck, Dobson and their Mannerist frames | The Frame Blog, 27 May 2014. On Van Dyck’s career in London, his self-portrait, now in the National Portrait Gallery, with its spectacular frame and William Dobson’s similarly framed self-portrait, exploring Italian and Netherlandish designs sources.
Roberts, Lynn, A Victorian Obsession…with frames, The Frame Blog, 5 December 2014. An excellent well-illustrated survey of the superb frames on paintings from the Pérez Simón collection which featured in the exhibition of the collection at Leighton House, London, November 2014-March 2015. Many classic Pre-Raphaelite and aesthetic painters frames are illustrated.
Roberts, Lynn, Charles Henry Savory: The Practical Carver and Gilder, The Frame Blog, 22 February 2015. Featuring Charles Henry Savory of Cirencester and his handbook, The Practical Carver and Gilder, together with information on other members of his family active as carvers and gilders and on the Savory family fine art publishing operation in Cirencester and Bristol.
Roberts, Lynn, The clue is in the frame: or what a label can reveal, The Frame Blog, 8 September 2016. A trail leading to the Regency maker, John Smith, and to other destinations, as a Poussin frame is cleverly explored.
Scott, Peter Kennedy, A romantic look at Norwich School landscapes by a handful of great little masters, Acer Art, Ipswich, 1998, pp.95-104. Reproducing four labels and four frames in colour in a chapter on framing the work of the Norwich School.
Shinn, Masako H., ‘Mortimer Luddinton Menpes: A Japanophile in Victorian England', Apollo, vol.154, November 2001, pp.13-20, 12 colour illustrations. Two pages and three illustrations are devoted to the distinctive Japanese frames designed by Menpes for his work.
Simon, Jacob (with the Frame Blog), Hogarth’s Framemaker, on the documentary trail which links Hogarth to the Huguenot framemaker, Isaac Gosset, at Lincoln’s Inn. Published by the Frame Blog.
Simon, Jacob, 'A note on Arthur Melville (1855-1904) and picture frames', Museum Management and Curatorship, vol.16, 1997, pp.427-33. Reproduces five frames on the work of this Scottish watercolour and oil painter.
Simon, Jacob, Thomas Johnson's The Life of the Author, Furniture History Society 2003 (also published in Furniture History, vol.39, 2003), 64 pp, 13 illustrations.
Simon, Jacob, see National Portrait Gallery - Thomas Gainsborough and picture framing
Simon, Jacob, see National Portrait Gallery - A note on George Romney and picture framing
Simon, Jacob, see National Portrait Gallery - Notes on John Singer Sargent's frames
Simon, Jacob, ‘Women in picture framing’, published on The Frame Blog at Women in picture framing | The Frame Blog, 5 March 2014. On the role of women in picture framing in England from the 1620s onwards, using examples from London and Birmingham.
Simon, Jacob, ‘John Singer Sargent and the Framing of his Pictures’, in Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1914-1925, Complete Paintings, vol.9, 2016, pp.56-79. A well-illustrated chronological survey of the frames that Sargent used in Paris, London, Boston and New York from the 1870s until the 1920s, identifying his framemakers, his frame styles and the way that he went about framing.
Simon, Jacob, Documenting developments in the taste for Auricular framing in Britain, 1620-80, Auricular Style: Frames blog, 27 December 2016.
Sloan, Kim, J.M.W. Turner. Watercolours from the R.W. Lloyd Bequest to the British Museum, exh. cat., 1998, pp.2, 19-21, 60, 88. With an account of the framing of Lloyd's watercolours by Agnew's in the 1910s.
Stuart, Susan E., ‘Part 2: Picture Frames’, in Gillows of Lancaster and London, 1730-1840: Cabinetmakers and International Merchants: A Furniture and Business History, vol. 2, Woodbridge, 2008, pp.34-45, 16 illustrations. Reviewed by Lynn Roberts.
This fascinating chapter on Gillows’ framing activities is part of a panoramic survey in two volumes of the work of this northern furniture business (with a London workshop), assembled from the letters, sketchbooks and ledgers held in its extensive archives. Use of descriptions of and invoices for frames, allied to identification of the actual framed works and fleshed out by extracts of letters to and from clients, have produced an extremely informative account of the provincial picture frame industry in the 18th and 19th centuries. ‘By the late 1760s’, Stuart notes, ‘Gillows’ picture frames were amongst the most important things they made’, and an inventory made at one point revealed that looking-glass and picture frames comprised almost a third of their stock. The styles of frames they offered are charted in the Estimate Sketch Books during the 18th century, but these tail off during the 19th century, possibly due to competition or ordering-in. In the early 1760s ebonized and parcel-gilt frames seem to have been most popular; these might be minimally ornamented or enriched at a customer’s request: for instance, with the gilded ornaments which ‘…cost us in London 7s. 6d.’ and which were acquired for an Ulverston client’s black frame.
Although small sketches and sections illustrate the available choices, ‘Gillow picture frames are difficult to research because they were obviously not stamped or marked and rarely illustrated.’ An important tract of information therefore depends on Gillows’ relationship with George Romney, who was locally-born and returned several times during the 1760s to paint the Lancastrian gentry. Between October 1760 and August 1761, ‘Mr Romney the painter purchased about twenty-four stretcher frames and an easel from Gillow’; his work on subsequent trips is housed in Gillow frames, and these correspond to the three main Romney frame patterns which Jacob Simon has noted as in use during the 1760s: a swept Rococo style, a hollow frame with cabochon top edge, and a gadrooned frame. Stuart’s researches have identified ‘one of the most important Gillow frames made at this period, 1767’; this is the Rococo frame for Romney’s half-length portrait of Rev. Dr Daniel Wilson of Lancaster, pierced, with lambrequin corners and centres, its contour breaking into a cascade of ‘S’ scrolls and its sight edge defined with a chain ornament. Gillows’ ledgers record the anonymous carver’s and gilder’s time and cost (5 ½ weeks at £4.1s.6d), plus finishing (by ‘Chambers’: 2 ½ days at 4s) and materials; the ‘total estimate book cost for making and materials was £5.7s.8d’.
Another commission of the same year, recorded in a sketch, is an old-fashioned Kentian frame with pendant drops described as ‘…a neat carv’d frame with side pieces‘. This was made for Charles Strickland of Sizergh Castle for £1.15s.0d, being - apart from the drops – much less ornate than the Rococo frames; the frieze would probably have been sanded, or ‘frosted’ in the Gillow terminology. This ability to produce older designs for their more conservative clients did not prevent Gillows from trying the most up-to-date processes: by 1768 ‘the firm was obtaining papier-mâché for frame mouldings at 2s. for four yards’. In 1779 and 1780 they ordered lengths of gilded brass mouldings from ‘Messrs W[h]itworth Yates & Co.’ of Birmingham, informing them that it must be ‘…ready rabitted to miter together‘; and by 1790 Stuart finds reference to ‘composition moulding‘ in an estimate for a frame. This was the cheapest material of all at 1d to 3d per foot, although the labour in applying it was still costly: 9s.4d in 1801 for John Helme’s work ‘sticking composition when laid on in all 3 ½ days‘.
Gillows also used up-to-date styles: gadrooned hollow frames, for example, on portraits of the Rawlinson family of Lancaster by Romney, with which Stuart associates the mystifying term, ‘Gotherend’ or ‘Gothereade’, found in the ledgers. ‘Nulled ovals’ are also mentioned, in 1784 on an oval frame made for Mr Barrow, the painter, as are ‘cross flutes’. Carlo Maratta frames occur, too; a letter of 1769 from the Gillow brothers to William Shaw of Preston notes that they had showed him a ‘carved gilt & burnished Carlamarat… [at] 6s.6d. per foot‘, whilst their most expensive version of the frame was carved in 1773 for Romney’s portrait of William Lindow. This cost 8 ½ guineas, and was described as ‘…a very large & elegant picture frame Carlomarat’. The carver may also have been employed by Gillows on the fitting-up of Lindow’s house in 1772; this work had been done by a Mr Norris, and Stuart speculates that the 26 feet of ‘Carlamerat’ which Norris produced in 1773 may have been used for Lindow’s frames. She also notes that the frame now on the portrait may not be the original.
Frames for artists were also produced: for instance, a carved giltwood design for the painter Thomas Burrows, to whom the Gillows wrote that they had not been able to ‘tell what the picture frame would cost us as we never made up one of the same sort before‘. However, when pushed for time or unable to supply the right frame, the firm would sub-contract work or order from London. A letter of 1770 to the Gillows’ cousin Thomas in London asks for fashionable gilt frames of a particular size and price, and requests that offcuts be sent, so that the client can choose a pattern. Thomas is encouraged to apply to ‘Mr Rumney the painter’ for help in picking a framemaker. However, by 1780 Gillows themselves are supplying lengths of frame mouldings to local upholsterers and cabinetmakers.
Tamis, Dorien, Lawrence Alma-Tadema: a review of the exhibition, The Frame Blog, 16 February, 2017. Together with Lynn Roberts, An appendix: Alma-Tadema’s frames, an extensive well-illustrated survey of the striking frames used by the artist, with a discussion of his frame makers. The exhibition travels from Leeuwarden, close to the artist’s birthplace, to the Belvedere, Vienna, and to Leighton House, London (7 July-29 October 2017).
Thistlewood, Jevon, and Katherine French, ‘The Grinling Gibbons Picture Frame: a social and botanical history’, Ashmolean, no. 68, autumn 2014, pp.31-3. On the iconography of the frame on John Riley’s Elias Ashmole, c.1682, and its restoration by Timothy Newbery in which the later gilding was removed to reveal the frame’s original appearance.
Townsend, Joyce H., Jacqueline Ridge and Stephen Hackney, Pre-Raphaelite Painting Techniques, Tate Publishing, London, 2004, 208pp, fully illustrated mainly in colour. The chapter on ‘Pre-Raphaelite Methods and Materials' includes a two-page discussion of frames; the appendix lists in tabular form brief details of the frames and their makers belonging to thirty-four important Pre-Raphaelite works. The section on the paintings reproduces many works in their frames, and provides summary information on history, maker, design and construction.
Townsend, Joyce H. (ed.), William Blake: The Painter at Work, Tate Publishing, Tate, 2003, 192pp, 145 illustrations mainly in colour. The chapter on ‘The Presentation of Blake's Paintings', by Joyce Townsend, Robin Hamlyn and John Anderson, discusses the evidence for the mounting and framing of Blake's work by the artist or his patrons. A summary of 20th-century methods of displaying Blake's work in the Tate Gallery follows, concluding with the most recent hang in the 2000 exhibition William Blake, in revival neo-classical ‘close' frames.
van Breda, Cobus, ‘J.M.W.Turner: At the Watercolour's Edge', Melbourne Journal of Technical Studies in Art, vol.1, 1999, pp.137-46, 2 illustrations. Documents Turner's preference for close framing his watercolours in gilt frames, and discusses Ruskin's approach and the subsequent rise in the use of white mounts.
van der Ploeg, Peter and Carola Vermeeren, Princely Patrons. The Collection of Frederick Henry of Orange and Amalia of Solms in The Hague, exh. cat., Mauritshuis, The Hague, and Waanders Publishers, Zwolle, 1997, pp.164-9. On a marvellous set of twelve 'beauties' from the court of Charles I, perhaps dating to the early 1640s, all in matching English auricular frames of the period.
Wendorf, Richard, ‘Framing Rossetti', in Studies in British Art: 15: After Sir Joshua: Essays on British Art and Cultural History, Yale University Press, 2005, pp.77-107, 10 illustrations. A discussion of Rossetti's use of the frames he designed, not only to extend the visual boundaries of the work of art beyond the edge of the painting, but to comment upon, explain, and even to determine the interpretation of many of his subjects through inscriptions (from Dante, etc) and through his own sonnets engraved on the frame.
Whitehead, Angus, ‘The Arlington Court Picture: A surviving example of William Blake's framing practice', The British Art Journal, vol.8, no.1, 2007, pp.30-33, 4 illustrations. Details the discovery in 1949 of an 1821 watercolour by William Blake, in a contemporary frame, period glazing, and with the label of James Linnell, ‘Blake's framer', on the back, suggesting that this might be a surviving instance of a Blake painting in its original frame. The evidence adduced is tenuous, and the footnotes less optimistic than the title in that there is little to show of Blake's own involvement; however, it is a contemporary setting by the framemaker father of Blake's friend, John Linnell.
Wiggins, Arnold, & Sons, four modest but attractive fold-out card publications from this firm, also available online at Arnold Wiggins & Sons
- A Hang of English Frames 1620-1920, 1996, reproducing eleven framemakers' labels
- Flaming June, 1996, recreating a frame for Leighton's picture
- Lawrence, Morant and a Picture Frame from Harewood, 1996. A similar text to the article by Michael Gregory in Museum Management and Curatorship, vol.15, 1996, pp.423-6.
- Frames for Drawings, no date. A brief essay and 8 illustrations, mainly of 17th-century frames.
- Annotated Bibliography of Frame Publications, 1995-2014
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