The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

The Art of the Picture Frame

Art of Picture of the Frame cover

The Art of the Picture Frame book cover

The Art of the Picture Frame
Updated September 2017

This ongoing website feature arises out of the interest shown in the exhibition, The Art of the Picture Frame, held at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 to 9 February 1997. It was launched in April 1998. It provides an update on the exhibition and gives information on current research.

Contributions are welcome on framing and reframing work at museums and galleries and on forthcoming publications and exhibitions, as are longer features on the history, technique and conservation of picture frames. Send to Jacob Simon, National Portrait Gallery, London WC2H 0HE or e-mail to [email protected].


British picture framemakers, 1600-1950

Collection guides

A Guide to Picture Frames at the Foundling Museum, London
A Guide to Picture Frames at Knole, Kent
Framing Italian Renaissance Paintings at the National Gallery, London - by Jacob Simon
Dresden Gallery Frames -- by Peter Schade

Artists and their frames

A note on Philip de Laszlo and picture framing -- by Lynn Roberts
Thomas Gainsborough and picture framing
Notes on the Frames in the Exhibition, Portraits by Ingres -- by Nicholas Penny
Thomas Lawrence and picture framing
A note on George Romney and picture framing
Framing references in Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Correspondence -- by Lynn Roberts
John Singer Sargent and picture framing
Raeburn's Rival, Archibald Skirving 1749-1819: a Review of the Frames -- by Laura Houliston
Whistler's Correspondence -- by Lynn Roberts


Identifying the Framemakers of 18th-century Paris -- by Edgar Harden
A frame by Martha Somerville, a Victorian carver in Italy

Other studies

Extending frames
Oxford frames
Framing in the reign of Charles II and the introduction of the Sunderland frame
Northern European Frames: a conference at Dresden -- by Lynn Roberts
New York University Frame Conference

Research and publications

Frames on the Internet
Annotated bibliography of frame publications
An update on the National Portrait Gallery exhibition, The Art of the Picture Frame
The New Oxford Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - by Lynn Roberts

Get Creative

Develop your art skills

Discover our BP Next Generation short films made by artists. Follow step by step guides in drawing and painting techniques.

Improve your skills

Hold Still

Hold Still photography workshop

Reflect on your own experiences of lockdown through this easy-to-do from home, photographic exercise. 

Watch the video

Draw Like a Renaissance Master

Revisit The Encounter exhibition and learn about Renaissance and Baroque drawing methods and materials.

Improve your technique