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Framing is as essential as having a roof on your house in wintertime! In fact, it's like the baby carriage for your artwork. In essence, all wallhung art is fragile, being either a form of paper or canvas. Acids like to stain it, water likes to rot it, bugs like to eat it. The latter scares me the most....all you need to do is to see how a "silverfish" bores a long trench through a rare print to want an impermeable framing job around every treasure! But, disasters occur as well: the flung soda at a kid's party, or the waters running down the walls during a monsoon! Frames give you some time to react and rescue! But neither are they airtight. Pictures can breathe in frames. This keeps molds from growing inside. And that is why we use spacer "mats" to keep the paper works off the underside of the glass, as well as those plastic "buttons" on the back of frames to let air circulate. Regardless, if you're a smoker, you'll notice after a number of years that your pictures have "smoked" too....they'll be nicotine stained!!! So, remember, frames are not sealed as tightly as Tut's tomb. They do not relieve you of all responsibility. If you hang your pictures in regular bright sunlight, unlike their owners, they will fade away to ghosts rather than tan!!!
BOUDOIR ART FRAMING:
Discussion of Boudoir Art framing might go on and on for those obsessed with exacting detail and stylistic evolution. Though discussed in my "About Boudoir" section, let's recap here. Boudoir Art existed in a time capsule that spanned several quite diverse Art Movements of the early Twentieth Century. Therefore, the frames in which these works are found now are quite varied. Sometimes the choices were perfect. Others, we want to scream a loud and change them as fast as possible!
Victorian: The spiritual essence, or message, of Boudoir Art was completely in opposition to the idea of Victorian restrictiveness upon women. Thus, it makes me laugh to see Icarts and other Boudoir works in gaudy gold Victorian frames. Often, these are modern framing jobs that ignore or misinterpret the philosophy of the art with no malice intended. People just use what they use on everything else: big gold frames! This is America, the land of the Cadillac! Because Boudoir Art began in the 1905-1910 era in Paris, older customers and framers still recalled the heavier framing styles of the past decade. For this reason, Fashion Period etchings are sometimes found in gilded, complex, wide Victorian frames as their original housing. But with the smaller size of early works, and the good advice of up to date framers, most clients bowed to more lightweight "modern" moldings. I would say that only Boudoir Art from before 1920 could be considered "appropriate" in a Victorian frame.
Art Nouveau: Many of the earlier Boudoir etchings of Milliere and Icart were placed in Nouveau style frames. And these are great treasures of construction and design when found! They are wholly complimentary to the artworks. And in a deep, thoughtful sense, they "speak" greatly of the Times. For Nouveau was the quick, stunning breakaway or transition point from conservativism toward soulful expressiveness of the individual. What could better compliment an early Boudoir piece in its message? Nouveau frames are rounded, flowing, stylized pieces that in many places undulate, curve and remind us of a kind of calligraphy in wood! The squared right angles are gone! Nouveau liberates. Nouveau is like incense and mind liberating additives! One might look upon the samples pictured here! The peacock rising up from the swirl of feathers motif is just stunning! The sad part is that there were not more Nouveau frames. But the period was like a quick "blip" in time. By the time early Boudoir was in full swing (1914), Paris was already anticipating the clean minimalism of Twenties Deco.
Minimalist Framing: From 1910-1925, we notice a common type of framing that can only be called "minimalist". One might just as easily say "simple" or "basic". But in essence, the reason these plain moldings were chosen was to simply minimalize them. People were rejecting the gaudy overabundance of prior decades and searching for simple root pleasures in life. Design was moving toward clean and crisp. These frames are the most common to be found on "fashion" works of the Teens. They are often narrow black wood of ½ to 1 inch width, and have no designs or embellishments. A Single buff mat might, or might not be added within. Occasionally, sheets were just placed full frame against the glass (!) in this period! Variations include brown walnut and gold "wash" finishes. In framing an Icart from his Fashion Period, these frames are the most historically correct. Grantedly, it takes a strong conviction in truth to resist the urge to use a more "showy" style.
Twenties "Decorative" Frames: These are the classic frames of most Boudoir Art! They were trendy and stylish in their day! And in fact, to put your Icart in anything else would simply ruin the whole psychic impact of the work!
Frames were no wider than 1 to 1 ½ inches. They were often gold "washed" or gold leafed. A surface texture design, often geometric, was repeated around the entire perimeter. These might be swirls, stipples, keys, hash marks, or stepped borders. Occasionally a metallic blue or green overwash was employed. Sometimes the exotic was implied by a splendid leopard skin paint pattern! More often however, the client chose a frame containing a strip of color that was considered complimentary to the artwork or their home decor. While green and blue were the favorites, red is occasionally seen. But no matter what the design, the common thread between all cases was the desire for clean, crisp, basic design.
Usually, French mats were employed in these framings. They yielded the look of a frame within a frame, and added a touch of class to the "artist signed" works. (See "Custom Matting") Examples of original Boudoir period frames are shown below. For the most part, this style of frame is the overwhelming choice for an Icart or other piece of Boudoir paper art.
Art Deco Frames: In regards to true Deco style, very few Boudoir frames show a definite connection. Occasionally, a molding appears with very jazzy, wild, geometric patterns that make one sit up and say "Deco"! But this is the exception.
I believe the reason to be multifold. First, the designs are "busy"; they detract the eye from the picture. Secondly, the clients were mostly average citizens who wanted something less intense in their homes. And lastly, Boudoir Art was about soft, comfortable, sumptuous lifestyles, not the trendy jaggedness of modern architecture. So when Deco frames are discovered, I find them best employed with a strongly worked French mat to balance the whole effect across entire visual field. In this way, the eye tends to hover in the center.
THE DAVID CHASE GALLERY'S ANTIQUE FRAME WAREHOUSE
- Artwork should be kept in its original frame, unless it was inappropriate in the first place.
- If original frame is damaged, a similar style of molding should be sought out.
- Mats should be "copied" or recreated in a modern acid-free version.
- However, in the balance between historical authenticity of the framing, and the preservation of the artwork itself, the artwork always rules!
While modern framers tend to discard old frames as "too simple", "out of date" or "rickety", at David Chase Gallery we admire and attempt to preserve these. They are like the cars that moved our forefathers! They are the lovely little "envelopes" that mailed our art to us through time!
At the Gallery, we maintain an ever increasing inventory of authentic moldings from the 1910-1950 period. The majority are from Boudoir Art's heyday of 1920-1935. These are from stocks of other dealers, or leftovers when clients, in spite of our objections, insisted on using more modern styles. They are also the "lost children" of yard sales, flea markets, and antique malls.... now, at last, coming home to the right place! Consequently, we have a vast array to choose from, in a variety of surface designs, colors, widths, and general "feel".
- Antique Frames For Sale: We sell only the antique frames themselves. Therefore, the actual process of assembling your artwork and mats into the frame will be up to your local frame gallery operator. Simply insist that all materials are "100% Acid Free", or better yet, "Rag". Also, since old frames have more narrow back "lips" than modern ones, your framer will need to modify his usual techniques just a little.
- Frame Shapes: Most frames are obviously rectangles or squares with four right angled corners. We have a limited number of OVAL SHAPED and even CATHEDRAL SHAPED frames from the period.
- Sizing: Once you pick out a frame, we can cut it down to the size you need. This is a limiting factor, of course, in whether you can use the frame. Generally, we lose two inches of length to "resize" or cut down an old frame. But, if the dimensions allow, the final product is as strong and nice looking as it was originally at a slightly different size. Obviously, ovals an cathedrals can not be resized.
- Cost: The cost for resizing an old frame and putting it back together is $15.
- Hangers: We'd be glad to supply wires, hangers, screw eyes, clips, etc., though your local frame gallery (or Hardware Store!) is probably equally capable for such supplies
- Shipping: Since frames are light, weight is no problem; but size sometimes crosses a cutoff point at the shipping companies called "oversized". This usually occurs over 40" in either dimension. Then, a surcharge is added. Otherwise, most old frames can be sent UPS for $5.
- Modern frames: Occasionally, we got more modern frames as left overs from other inventory. We will show these when already available.
- To Ask questions, or order, please Email us.
The gallery below gives just several representative samples of what we have for sale. Please click here to see the entire stock which is separated out by the major "color" on the frame.
PMB 263, 590 Centerville Road, Lancaster, PA 17601
(610) 308- 1756