Annotated Bibliography of Frame Publications,
1995 to 2014
By country: Flemish

See also COLLECTIONS under London, National Gallery

Bücken, Véronique, and Griet Steyaert, L’Héritage de Rogier van der Weyden: la peinture à Bruxelles 1450-1520, catalogue of exhibition at Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts, Brussels, 2013 (also available in Dutch), 384pp, numerous colour illustrations, not indexed. This handsome publication surveys painting in Brussels, 1450-1520, many of them the work of anonymous masters. One of the features of the book is the attention given to original frames and in particular to those bearing the mark of the Brussels woodworking guild (a compass and plane). Also discussed is a particular type of dovetail joint, which it suggests is largely peculiar to Brussels. The two features provide a means of localising various works as painted in Brussels. Much of this information was pioneered by Verougstraete-Marcq & Van Schoute, Cadres et supports dans la peintureflamande aux 15e et 16e siècles (1989), but the exhibition catalogue takes it distinctly further.

Most of these frames are fairly standard types with a narrow flat outer moulding, a slightly wider roll moulding, a simple inner moulding, and a flat sloping bottom sill. The surface finish has generally been disturbed, especially when gilt. Of the works with original frames, 22 or more, were indicated on the labels. Some of these, nine or more, dating from the 1450s to the 1520s, were given particular attention in the exhibition. The Brussels guild mark was introduced in the 1450s. It generally occurs on the end grain of the bottom member of the frame, close to the join with the vertical member, and is about 12 to 16 mm in size. The catalogue reproduces many instances and contains an illustrated survey of frames so marked (17 in all), whether or not in the exhibition. On the basis of this mark, the catalogue localises the Master of the Legend of St Catherine and certain other works to Brussels. See the catalogue introduction pp.17-18, 28-32.

An identifiable group of frames can be found on the work of the “Master of the Portraits of Princes”, whose distinctive flat faces and large facial features, especially noses, make his work recognisable. This Master’s portraits are relatively small in scale. None of his works in the exhibition had the compass and plane mark. Two from the late 1480s are painted in a highly distinctive manner, with tendrils and viola flowers on the roll moulding, and lettering on or below the bottom sill, including no.43, Engelbert II, Count of Nassau (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum), c.1487.

Also of interest is the picture from Lisbon, Hugo van der Goes(?), St Luke drawing the Virgin (no.27), c.1475-80, which shows the saint using a metalpoint to make a drawing of the Virgin, presumably the subject of the missing right-hand panel. Behind St Luke there is an easel supporting a blank panel in an off-white frame, as if it were ready for painting.

Hand, John Oliver, et al., Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2006, 339pp. The well-illustrated catalogue for this exhibition of Netherlandish panel paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries includes a section on ‘Diptych Frames’, pp.17-21. Of 65 panels studied for the exhibition, 29 retained some or all elements of their original frames, whether integral or engaged frames. The display of portraits is also discussed.

Verougstraete, Hélène and Roger Van Schoute, 'Frames and supports in Campin's Time', in Susan Foister and Susie Nash (eds), Robert Campin. New Directions in Scholarship, 1996, pp.87-93.

Verougstraete, Hélène and Roger Van Schoute, 'The Origin and Significance of Marbling and Monochrome Paint Layers on Frames and Supports in Netherlandish Painting of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries', in Ashok Roy and Perry Smith (eds.), Painting Techniques, History, Materials and Studio Practice, International Institute for Conservation on the occasion of the Dublin Congress, 1998, pp.98-100. Examines painted layers on the frames and backs of panel paintings of this period, linking marbled finishes to marbled papers imported from the Near and Far East, noting how such paintings were stored or displayed so that the reverse might be seen, and describing colour fashions in monochrome finishes, which might carry later gold lettering, coats of arms or donor portraits.

Verougstraete, Hélène and Roger Van Schoute, ‘Frames and Supports of Some Eyckian Paintings', in Susan Foister, Sue Jones and Delphine Cool (eds.), Investigating Jan Van Eyck, Turnhout, Belgium, 2000, pp.107-17, 6 figures. A detailed examination of the construction, mouldings and decoration of frames on portraits and altarpieces by Van Eyck.

Wadum, Jorgen, 'Historical Overview of Panel-Making Techniques in the Northern Countries', in Kathleen Dardes and Andrea Rothe (eds.), The Structural Conservation of Panel Paintings, proceedings of a symposium at the J. Paul Getty Museum, 24-28 April 1995, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 1998, pp.149-77. With a section on the construction and fitting of early Antwerp frames, including good illustrations.

Wadum, Jorgen, 'The Antwerp Brand on Paintings on Panel', in Erma Hermens (ed.), Looking Through Paintings, Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, vol.11, 1998, pp.179-98. Primarily concerning panel paintings; however the rules of the Antwerp Joiners' Guild from 1617 specify that 'every joiner is obliged to impress his mark on frames and panels made by him'. The use of such a mark on picture frames of the period is described in another paper by Wadum, 'The Winter Room at Rosenborg Castle', Apollo, vol.128, 1988, pp.82-7.