Meaning “of the ear,” the term “auricular” can be used to describe a certain breed of frame resembling ears and earlobes. These frames also featured masks and marine shapes, making the style a popular choice among merchants and traders who lived in seaports and wanted their art to reflect their lifestyle. When Cardinal Leopoldo de Medici, the “brilliant” member of the famous family, decided to reframe his paintings, he used the auricular frame to unify his magnificent and diverse collection.
While Medici’s framing project happened during the 17th century, the style was developed much earlier — around 1600 — by silversmiths based in Holland. Jan Steen’s 17th-century painting The Family Concert depicts an auricular frame set amidst a lively social scene, suggesting the desirability and stature of such objects in Northern Europe by the mid-17th century.
Interested in auricular frames? Lowy Frame and Restoring Co. has the largest collection of antique frames in the world available for purchase, or we can work with you on a custom product. Get in touch or call 212-861-8585.