English 19C frame

English 19C oak veneered frame, 39 x 27″ (99 x 69 cms)

I was reminded of this frame recently while looking for something else. It is an unusual example of a 19C English frame and has clearly been made with great care. I love the way that the oak ‘frieze’ is raised up and the way that it contrasts with the gessoed inner section, which is roughly the same width. The rows of simple, quite small compo ornament, add a kind of lace edging to the section. The colour is perfect.


English 18C Swept 50 x 40″ portrait frame


English mid 18C swept and pierced frame, to fit canvas 50 x 40″ (127 x 101.5 cms)

Of all the frames on this website, this is the one I am least likely to sell. It encapsulates all that I love about English frames, being light, flat and delicate but with 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 feel that adds to the overall effect.

detail-swept I understand that it came off a Wright of Derby portrait.



English 18C swept and pierced Rococo frame 34 x 24 1/4″ (86 x 62 cms)

Another Engish swept frame with assymetric carving on the centres, more in the French Louis XV style.


English 17C ‘Sunderland’ frame, 30 x 25″ (76 x60 cms).

A good example of this kind of frame, which can either have a ‘wavy’ site 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  leafy 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 jewelled 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.

English 17C laurel and berry frame, part dry-stripped.


English 17C carved and silvered frame, 29 ¼ x 24 ½” (74 x 62 cms)

Sometimes these frames have an oak leaf and acorn pattern, sometimes laurel and berry. This one is not very clearly either …

The frame is 17th Century, English.  Standard 30 x 25″ portrait size.  Someone thought it a good idea (19th C?) to paint the original silver leafed frame brown with an oil gilded site edge.  What makes it stranger is that the brown paint has been given a bit of wood-graining.   This photo shows it half-stripped, the brown paint manually picked away from the silver. The frame will be lacquered when the brown paint has been fully removed – this will prevent the silver from oxidising and going an irreversible black.  Originally the lacquer would probably have been yellowish, so that the silver becomes more gold-like in appearance.

Carlo Marratta frame


English 18C Carlo Maratta frame 59 x 48″ (150.5 x 121 cms)

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, site 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, and the dark background colour makes me wonder who designed and made this lovely thing?


English 18C centre and corner pattern frame, original gilding, 43 1/2 x 39 1/4″ (110 x 99.5 cms)

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 re-cutting 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 slight Chinoiserie feel.


Detail of one corner — again the economy of English frames that I like so much.  There is no re-cutting 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.


Spanish center and corner frame, various English frames behind.

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.

Scottish frames


19C English (Scottish?) frame with compo top edge, gilded rough pine flat and gessoed and gilded sight slip, 48 x 35 1/2″ (122 x 90 cms)

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

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