Welcome to The Gilded Farmer's Blogspot!

Farming and Framing go well together, right? Same letters just a different arrangement. I use eggs from my hens for my egg tempera paintings, the feathers from my turkeys for some fine painted finishes, and the fruits and vegetables as a source of nourishment and inspiration (sometimes using them for still life paintings.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Continuing the link between Artist, Frame maker, and Patron

Throughout the history of art there have been many notable examples of the working relationships between Artist, Patron, and Framemaker. The earliest known picture frames date to Pompeii and surround a pair of portraits. The patrons probably commissioned the portraits from the artist and the surrounds from a woodworker/gilder. Seventeenth through Nineteenth century painters such as Mary Beale, George Romney, and Gilbert Stuart not only worked directly with framemaker/gilders to complete their commissions, they were often in control of the designs and some, as is the case with Gilbert Stuart, offered several selections of picture frame designs to their patrons which varied in cost and elaborateness relative to the patron’s means.
It is thought the original purpose for burnished gold picture frames arose from the need to reflect into the painting what little light there was in a pre-Edison home. The Industrial Revolution changed that. Homes were built with more windows; electricity brought more artificial illumination into the home. Instead of choosing heavily ornamented frames, artists began using more linear forms of style and design. From the French Impressionists to the American Scene painters, unique textured, gouged, or painted gesso frames became the choice for artists wishing to present their work in surrounds which they felt were more harmonious than overpowering to their pieces.
The line of Artist-Patron-Framemaker often breaks down over time. Collectors of 20th century art regularly find themselves having to reframe the works they acquire. Original frames the artist intended for paintings are often removed only to be replaced by inferior mass-produced frames which match a sofa rather than a painting’s style. Frame design decisions are based more on interior decorating aesthetics than on the aesthetic needs of the painting. Framing choices are also often based on the popularity of a style. Historical frame designs, such as the Whistler style of reeded molding, have become mass produced as they have been popularized; transforming what was once one artist’s ambition to create a unique and perfect frame to harmonize with his paintings into a frame style that, in the hands of a framemaking factory, has become commercialized and generic.
When reframing artwork, every collector should look at the frame history for their paintings and consider options beyond the ordinary. Twentieth Century palettes and painting styles such as work by Thomas Hart Benton, Stephen Etnier, or Walt Kuhn lend themselves to be presented in frames that are of gouged or carved wood scrubbed with layers of paint to give them a weathered look. French artwork of the mid century is
right at home in textured gesso finishes. Marsden Hartley used painted frames on much of his work, often painting the frames himself. Although this country has recently become inundated with imported and domestic mass-produced picture frames of all styles, there are still craftsmen who can rebuild the Artist-Patron-Framemaker links; craftsmen who have the skills and knowledge to assist the collector in making sound design choices for their collections.

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