Of all the frames on this website this is the one I am least likely to sell. It encapsulates in one frame all that I love about English frames – it is light, flat and delicate but has great presence. The carving of the frame is beautifully ‘drawn’ in the wood but not at all flashy. Essentially a flat piece of wood with the sight and back carvings on it, with the rocaille and pierced centres and corners applied onto it, emerging out of it.
What is remarkable about this kind of English craftsmanship is the fantastic elegance and economy of the design and manufacture. The surface is oil gilded, in good condition with a dry overall feel that only adds to the overall effect.
Another Engish swept frame with asymetric carving on the centres, more in the French Louis XV style.
A good example of this kind of frame, which can either have a ‘wavy’ sight edge where leafy ornament slightly encroaches on the picture surface, or a straight one as in this example. These frames are mostly of this pattern (flat section, masks top and bottom centres, leaves, swags, stems, flowers down the sides, others with a more laefy pattern) but the flat, graphic, nature of the ornament allowed the carver some leeway in the way it is used. I like the tasselled or jeweled swags half way up the sides and the lion’s paws set beside his head at the top. For more information on these frames, links to Dutch auricular frames and usage, see here.
The Carlo Maratta is a wonderful frame in candlelight – the burnished shields of the carved ornament in the hollow catch the light and twinkle. The section and the carlo ornament derive from Italian late 17C prototypes but the use of the ‘carlo stick’ in the hollow of the frame is typically English. Frames of this type are often associated with frames on portraits by Reynolds.
This frame was probably made in England circa 1720. The carving is of exceptional quality and may have been done by an Italian working in London? The section, sight and back edge carving as well as the alternating leaf and shield ornament of the main body of the frame are all loose interpretations of the Roman frames, but the thin gesso and (partial) oil gilding suggest that the frame was made in England.
The overall balance of ornament and colour of this frame, the way the carving goes its serpentine way to the corner leaves, the dark background colour – I wonder who designed and made this lovely thing?
A beautiful English 18C frame – typical because of the quality of the carving which is so elegantly, cleanly and simply done. There is very thin gesso, just enough to fill the grain of the pine from which this frame is carved. There is no recutting but some punch-work (see below). The gilding is typical English 18C oil gilding. Apart from the overall balance of this frame, notice the gadrooned sight carving, the stylised sunflower motif around the cabochon corner bosses and the ‘wings’ coming out of the corners with a slightly Chinoiserie feel.
Detail of one corner – again the economy of English frames that I like so much. There is no recutting of the gesso (which would be standard for any French frame of the period); instead there is a varied articulation of the gilded surface. Light ring-punching on the ogee moulding, as a base for the carving of leaves and deeper point-punching on the corners, random like a leopard’s spots and more regimented in the cross-hatched panels. With the sand in the frieze, these ways of making the gold not-flat are very effective.
English 18C carved and gilded frame with panels in centres, 25 x 22 1/2″ (63.5 x 57 cms)
A very fine example of an English frame of the early 18C. This frame was almost black when bought but the layers of dust and dirt lifted off to reveal this lovely dry oil-gilded surface with water-gilded panels in the centres of the sides, themselves reminiscent of the panels found on late 17C Lely frames and frames from Venice. The frame has a good overall balance and I like the way the foliate decoration flows from the corners to the panels – almost like art nouveau ornament.
Three frames – the outer an English 17C ‘acorn and oakleaf’ frame with the remains of original silvering; the middle one a German? 18C frame, white painted and silvered and the inner frame an Italian 18C yellow and black painted moulding frame.
The outer English frame, which is a standard 30 x 25″ portrait size, shows its age – later gilding has been stripped off, there are some carving repairs – but this can be just as attractive as the same frame in ‘perfect’ original condition.
This photograph shows part of a Spanish frame on the right – and some good English frames – the gilded one below is a finely carved running pattern, the one above a narrow and very elegant drawings frame and behind that, on the wall, a provincial silvered Lely panel frame.
I like frames that combine different surfaces and this is a good example with increasing ‘roughness’ from the sight slip outwards. I also like the way the straps over the oakleaf and acorn moulded compo top edge look like pastry strips on a tasty pie – you can see the fruit underneath. What is also impressive is the economy of this frame, not difficult to make (once you are set up for the compo) but very effective.
A selection of frames from our stock