Annotated Bibliography of Frame Publications,
1995 to 2013
General surveys

Alabone, Gerry, ‘The picture frame: knowing its place’, in Art, conservation and authenticities: material, concept, context, ed. Erma Hermens and Tina Fiske, London, 2009, pp.60-69, 8 illustrations. An interesting discussion, practical, analytical and philosophical, of the relationship of frame to painting and interior setting. The argument concerns the originality or otherwise of the frame; what is added to or subtracted from the painting’s appearance and its continuing history by the imposition of subsequent dealers’ or collectors’ frames, and to what extent should museums choose to replace anachronistic frames with contemporary styles? Illustrations (all at Tate) include Holman Hunt’s Our English Coasts, preserved immaculately in its original setting thanks to an early immuring in a box frame; a Turner sketch, given unintended authority by its only frame, a neoclassical revival pattern of 1910; Constable’s Chain Pier, Brighton, in a Duveen frame, altered and extended to fit; and a wall of original, non-original and replica 17th-century frames on works by Kneller and Isaac Fuller. The degree to which replica frames should be aged is discussed, and the suggestion made that museum visitors should be informed of the authenticity of such settings.

Bailey, W.H., Defining Edges: A New Look at Picture Frames, Harry N. Abrams Inc, New York, 2002, 136pp, copiously illustrated mainly in colour. Considers individual works of art in relation to their frames, from a Byzantine gospel cover via pictures by Michelangelo and Ferdinand Bol to late 20th-century paintings. The works are grouped in loose categories: ‘The Frame as Altarpiece', ‘The Frame as Window', ‘Frames Designed by Artists', etc. Reviewed by Jacob Simon, The Art Newspaper, May 2003.

Davis, Deborah, The Secret Lives of Frames: one hundred years of art and artistry, New York, 2007, 223pp, lavishly illustrated almost completely in colour. Published for the centennial anniversary of the Julius Lowy Frame and Restoring Company, this comprises brief and rudimentary histories of the firm and its collection of antique frames, categorized by nationality and by style. Information is drawn from the principal current sources of frame history, summarized and simplified; the focus of the work is as a picture book.

Karraker, D. Gene, Looking at European Frames: A Guide to Terms, Styles and Techniques, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2009, 88pp, numerous excellent colour illustrations but with only two line drawings as explanatory figures. An introductory guide to terminology used in describing European picture frames, illustrated with some nice examples from the Getty Museum. With potted studies on a few individuals themes, such as artist frames, Dutch frames and gilding and gold leaf, together with an appendix listing 44 pictures in the Getty thought to be in their original frames. By and large the definitions given in this guide are sound. Some of the explanations are uncomfortable. Can one comfortably use the label, ‘Mannerist’, to describe an auricular frame? The Lely frame, if one uses this term, was a late 17th and early 18th-century English framing style, rather than mid-17th century. The Regency frame in England is a period description and it is difficult to characterise it as a late neoclassical style when it also embraces frames which take their inspiration from French baroque and Régence patterns.

Kräftner,
Johann (ed.), with contributions by Robert Wald and Kathrine Klopf-Weiss, Halt und Zierde: das Bild und sein Rahmen, Christian Brandstätter Verlag, Vienna, 2009, 118pp, numerous illustrations, published to accompany an exhibition at the Liechenstein Museum. With framed pictures from the Liechenstein collection and loans of frames without pictures from dealers. This exhibition catalogue canters through the history of framing, making the usual connections to furniture, interiors and contemporary ornament. It focuses on the period from the 16th to the early 19th century, using many early Italian examples and a more international range for later years. With chapters on early integral frames, tabernacle and aedicular frames, tondos, cassetta and profile frames such as the Sansovino, cabinet frames, trophy frames and French 17th and 18th-century frames.

Lemke, Olaf, and Roberta Bartoli, Inscribed Frames from the 16th Century, Antike Rahmen und Antiquitäten, Berlin, no date but c.2005, 26pp, 22 colour illustrations. A delightful and illuminating booklet on Spanish and Italian frames of the 16th century, mainly of the cassetta type, where the flat frieze has been inscribed with a quotation (often Biblical), a prayer or memorial, which expands in some way on the painted image or otherwise addresses the spectator.

Lodi, Roberto and Amedeo Montanari, Repertorio Della Cornice Europea: Italia, Francia, Spagna, Paesi Bassi: Dal Secolo XV al Secolo XX, Edizioni Galleria Roberto Lodi, Modena, 2003, 418pp, 830 colour illustrations and 830 profile drawings. European frames from Italy, France, Spain and the Low Countries from the 15th to the 20th century.

Möller, Renate, Bilder- und Spiegelrahmen, Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich and Berlin, 2001, 134pp, numerous colour illustrations of variable quality. A basic introduction to the history of picture and mirror frames.

Schmitz, Tobias, Lexikon der europäischen Bilderrahmen, 272pp, 510 illustrations, published in German, orderable from the author: Schmitztobias@hotmail.com. Reviewed by Peter Schade, September 2003: This book is Tobias Schmitz's attempt to create a reference work for European picture frames from the Renaissance to the neo-classical period. He divides all frames into four types: Plattenrahmen (plate or casetta-frames), Profielrahmen (profile-frames) and Architektur und Ornamentrahmen (architectural and ornamental frames). Within these categories the frames are chronologically listed by country of origin. As in Paul Mitchell and Lynn Robert's A History of European Picture Frames, drawings are used to illustrate the text. The drawings are larger than in Mitchell's book but less clear. The profile drawings mostly seem exaggerated in height and some are speculative.

The author does not seem to have had much exposure to the handling of picture frames. Instead, the content of the book is almost entirely based on the literature of recent times. Schmitz's lexicon is a work of much effort and personal commitment (it is published by the author). His concise style is suited to a dictionary. However, he fails to categorise the frames in a useful way. The book would provide a far clearer overview if, for instance, the more common and influential frame patterns were separated from the rarer ones.

Schmitz, Tobias, Schmitz Compendium of European Picture Frames 1730-1930, Solingen, 2012, 320 pp, numerous line illustrations, translated from the German. This book contains a remarkable collection of line illustrations of frame sections willcorner details, rather on the model of Paul Mitchell and Lynn Roberts' History of European Picture Frames (1996), but more broadly drawn. For the English-speaking reader, its interest lies in its focus on examples largely drawn from Germany and, on occasion, the Czech Republic and Hungary, sometimes covering unfamiliar territory. Apart from preliminary material, indices and bibliography,the book consists of a 35 page survey of artistic trends from 1730 to 1930 and related picture frames, four pages illustrating 19th-century construction types and, at the heart of the book, more than 250 pages of examples arranged chronologically.

The chapter on artistic trends largely excludes rococo frames but does include a section on ‘Palladian Neoclassicism’, devoted to England from 1730. This forms a sort of prelude to the main discussion on neoclassical frames, devoted to Louis XVI frames (with an uncomfortable reference to Hellenistic Neoclassicism), Berlin mouldings, Directoire and Empire frames, and Restoration styles and Schinkel frames. The next section is devoted to early, high and late Biedermeier frames. Brief mention is made of Romanticism before a lengthy discussion on Historicism, focusing mainly on examples inspired by Italy and France. Finally, there is a short section on Jugendstil and individual artist's frames.

The splendid 250 page sequence of examples, with 444 illustrations, arranged chronologically focuses on the years from 1750 to 1910, with greatest attention given to German 19th-century frames. More than half of these are drawn from the leading collections in Berlin, Cologne and Munich and provide an insight into the frames in those collections. Other examples, apart from those in private collections, are mainly from the museums at Bremen, Budapest, Dresden, Hanover and Prague, with an occasional sidelong glance at London (mainly the National Portrait Gallery) and other international centres.

The book is not helped by infelicities in the translation and by numerous petty spelling mistakes. But some of the problems would seem to lie with original text. To take two examples which occur early on in the main sequence. Firstly, the reader finds the somewhat bizarre statement that: ‘The early Louis XVI style originally emerged in France c.1730…’ (this is repeated three times on p. 52). Quite apart from the fact that Louis XVI was not born until 1754, one would have to work hard to identify elements of Louis XVI style in the 1730s, especially since no detailed explanation is offered. Secondly, the statement is made concerning a frame on a Mengs self-portrait that its frame of c.1800 is probably the original when the portrait itself dates to 1773.