Italian punched cassetta frame

Italian 16/17C cassetta frame, 20 x 25″ (51 x 63.5 cms)

A nice example of a cassetta frame with a bold egg-and-dart outer edge and punched ornament to the frieze.

A wonderful Italian frame from the 16th Century

We recently were lucky enough to work on this 16C Tuscan frame, preparing it for fitting on to a 16th Century Florentine portrait.All carved in walnut and parcel gilded, it is possibly the finest frame that we have ever had here, with seven rows of wonderful carving and a design that I have never encountered before. The fully carved surface on the inside of the hollow makes it particularly spectacular.   What was most gratifying was to see the effect on the walnut surface of burnishing which brought it back to life.  Walnut is an almost magical wood, simultaneously incorporating both cool and warm colour tones.  The gilding outlines the pattern of the carving and in this frame you can see the way that carving, gilding and colour each play a part in the whole, with none predominating and the overall effect that of balance, albeit, in this case, a particularly sumptuous balance.

Italian Tabernacle Frame

Italian early 16C ? Tabernacle frame, 17 1/4 x 13 3/4″ (44.6 x 34/8 cms)

This frame must be Italian and it is clearly very old – it has suffered worm damage, damp, has been altered in its size and put on a new (19th/20C) backframe, but still it is still somehow very fine.  I have done nothing to it other than wet-out the dusty surface and colour-out the chips all over on the gesso.

Someone came into the shop and said it reminded him of Petra – the wedding-cake like stacking of pediment on pediment.  I realised that the antiquity of Petra, ‘half as old as time’, is like our frame where the effect of time on something that was once very ‘fine’ and elegant, is itself, now part of the attraction of the object.  I am reminded also of the wonderful barley-twist columns in the cardo at Apamea in Syria.  It is not just the Romanticism of a ruin, it is also the actual quality of the effect of time.

petraapamea.jpgSo often here we see paintings that have been restored, re-varnished and retouched and  we often sell frames that need repairs.  The odd thing is that old frames, when repaired, sometimes lose something.  Not always, just sometimes, something that was there is missing which is suppose is nothing other than time itself.

Schedoni Frame

Bartolomeo SCHEDONI Holy Family, in frame (auction house photograph)

We were recently asked to do some minor restorations to a frame for this painting by Bartolomeo Schedoni (1578-1615).  The neo-Classical frame is not contemporary with the painting but of exceptional quality.  I think that the frame is Roman? from about 1780/1800.

All the ornament is carved and perfectly gilded.  Particular care has been taken in the gilding and the contrast between flat and burnished areas – just look at the shell-like leaf on the burnished background below!Some two complete rows of ornament was missing – you can see the ‘shadow’ of something that was there in the photo above – we decided not to replace this.


Venetian early 18C reverse section frame with carved leaf, 15 1/2 x 11″ (39 x 28 cms)

A Venetian frame illustrating what I think of as the ‘sunburst’ effect – ornament radiating out from the painting.  A good example of perfect balance in a frame where the weight of section, scale of the ornament and overall size all seem to fit together perfectly to make an object desirable in its own right.



Italian 15th Century pastiglia frame 9 1/4 x 8″ (23.5 x 20 cms)

 These frames are unusual but seem fairly standard – they are often small and have one of three or four patterns on the slightly convex frieze. They

The ornament is made from pastiglia (literally, pastework) where gesso is modelled.  The material in this example appears quite fibrous, as if gesso had been mixed with paper pulp.



Italian 16C Cassetta frame 25 3/4 x 19″ (65 x 48 cms)

A classic type of frame from Italy, this type of frame is known as cassetta and with the black and gold like this is from the 16th Century.  Note the elegance of the very simple section (a flat piece of wood with added sight and back edge mouldings) which relies for its effect on the balance of the gilded lines and ornament on the black painted areas rather than elaborate carving.

This type of frame is often copied either like this rather elegant example with four lines of gilding or more crudely, often without the back-edge moulding.

Here is another example, smaller and with engraved and punched ornament on the gilded centres and corners.


Italian 16C cassetta frame with engraved centres and corners, 15 x 11 1/2″ (38 x 29 cms)



Interesting Sansovino type frame – the inner part is modern, but the outer carving is late 15th Century and in good condition.  The carving is very elegant, the faces of the caryatids are charming.  Matt blue paint on the background and red lacquer on the gilding for the jewel-like cabochon ornament.


North Italian or Southern French 17 reverse section frame with engraved gilded corners and faux tortoiseshell painted surface, 14 3/4 x 12″ (37.5 x 30.5 cms)

A very elegant small frame with brightly gilded corners against a rather sketchy ‘tortoiseshell’ pattern.  The frame has the ‘hazzling’ (looks like stitching) on the sight and back edges, which is typically French but the pattern and gilding are more Italian.  The gilded line around the sight edge is particularly effective.  The frame is in perfect conditon.



Italian 18C Gilded ‘Salvator Rosa’ section frame with original pale blue colour in the hollow, 29 3/4 x 22″ (75.6 x 56 cms)

Very attractive Italian (probably Roman) 18C moulding frame with unusual pale duck-egg blue painted surface in the hollow.  Some damage to the lower edge which  can be repaired.


Roman done up a bit copy

Roman 17C cassetta section frame with carved ornament

 The gilding on this rather architectural Roman is original (a rather lemony colour) but the painted surface has been recreated.  When the frame was bought it was covered all over in bronze paint.


This small frame is lovely – a sort of  (French) Berain type sight edge, punched frieze (rather Italian) and then bold gadroons with flower heads in between (often a motif of English frames of the early 18C), with a further row of carving behind the gadrooned top edge and a stepped back edge.