Featured Frame of the Week

This week’s featured frame is a rare 18th-century carved and gilt Louis XIV frame. Sumptuous and ornate, the frame reflects the aesthetics of Louis XIV, the flamboyant monarch who took the French throne in 1643. 

Rare 18th-century carved and gilt Louis XIV frame (5760)
Rare 18th-century carved and gilt Louis XIV frame (5760)

Beginning in the 17th-century, France was the epicenter of the art world, influencing framing styles as well as artistic output.  Heralded as the golden age of frame-making in Europe, the French court determined not only all manners of style and art, but also the decorative elements and shapes of frames.  Establishing the aesthetics of French frames were the succession of Louis, kings who ruled France for over one hundred years. Created by French master frame-makers who belonged to exclusive guilds of carpenters and cabinetmakers, frames during this period are often regarded as some of the most exquisite in the world.

Throughout his reign from 1643 until 1715, Louis XIV adored excessive and luxurious surroundings, which also affected the styles of frames. Illustrating his love for lavish settings, Louis XIV headquartered his court at the decadent Versailles, a gilded architectural masterpieces, containing some of the same opulence as seen in Louis XIV frames.

The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles (via chateauversailles.fr)
The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles (via chateauversailles.fr)

Detailed, bold and filled with organic ornamentation, frames of this period often include representations of fleur-de-lis and sunflowers in homage to Louis XIV and his nickname, the Sun King.

For more information on our 18th-century French frames and any of the 5000 frames in Lowy’s collection, please visit www.lowyonline.com or call 212-861-8585.

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Pairing Frames with 19th Century Art

Among the icons of Realism, Naturalism and other styles presented at Christie’s New York’s upcoming 19th Century European Art sale, Lowy worked with the auction house to match a selection of paintings with frames that augment the art’s already historically significant imagery.

Filled with artists such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet and Sir Alfred Munnings, Christie’s sale on April 29th presents some of the icons of 19th Century European art, ranging from France to England to Spain.

With that variation in styles and provenance, Lowy strove to combine these seminal works with likewise beautiful, as well as historically important, frames, linking the histories and ornamentation of the frames to the paintings.

Much of Christie’s 19th Century European Art sale consists of landscape paintings made during the development of Realism and Naturalism, which focused more on the representation of various social classes rather than the Neo-Classical ideal.

Gustave Courbet, Le Jardin de la Mère Toutain à Honfleur, oil on canvas, c.1859-1861 (Courtesy of Christie’s New York)
Gustave Courbet, Le Jardin de la Mère Toutain à Honfleur, oil on canvas, c.1859-1861 (Courtesy of Christie’s New York)

A rebellious and controversial artist in 19th Century France, Gustave Courbet, aside from creating masterpieces such as The Artist’s Studio: A Real Allegory of a Seven Year Phase in my Artistic and Moral Life, also depicted realistic, vibrant landscapes, as seen in Le Jardin de la Mère Toutain à Honfleur.

Painted circa 1859-1861 during a trip he made with writer and musician Alexandre Schanne, Courbet presents a charming, sun-tinged French countryside with extremely detailed trees and a quaint cabin.

18th-century carved and gilt Louis XIV frame (5760)
18th-century carved and gilt Louis XIV frame (5760)

In order to augment the natural beauty of Courbet’s landscape, Lowy combined Courbet’s iconic realism with the extravagant ornamentation of a18th-century carved and gilt Louis XIV frame. This rare Louis XIV frame reflects a similar connection to nature as Courbet’s landscape through its opulent carvings.

Emilio Sanchez-Perrier, A Summer Day on the River, oil on panel (Courtesy of Christie’s New York)
Emilio Sanchez-Perrier, A Summer Day on the River, oil on panel (Courtesy of Christie’s New York)

Similar to the connection between Courbet and the Louis XIV frame, Lowy perceptively paired Spanish artist Emilio Sanchz-Perrier’s A Summer Day on the River with a frame similar to his style of painting.

19th century gilded composition fluted cove frame (2250)
19th century gilded composition fluted cove frame (2250)

Known for his landscapes, genre paintings and water scenes, Sanchez-Perrier’s A Summer Day on the River presents a luminous scene of two subjects enjoying a summer day while boating.  Lowy chose to frame Sanchez-Perrier’s landscape in a 19th century gilded composition fluted cove frame, which features nature-inspired ornaments.  Adding depth through the frame, the fluted cove frames are often linked to the Hudson River School and their own sunlight-driven landscapes.

Moving from landscapes to one of England’s most famous and undeniably popular horse painters, Sir Alfred Munnings’s horse paintings feature heavily in Christie’s 19th Century European Art auction with four paintings up for sale.

Sir Alfred Munnings, The Whip, c.1922, oil on panel (Courtesy of Christie’s New York)
Sir Alfred Munnings, The Whip, c.1922, oil on panel (Courtesy of Christie’s New York)

Fascinated by horses and racing since the beginning of his career, Munnings treats the horses in his paintings with tremendous care, as seen in his The Whip.  Created while Munnings was living in Cornwall, The Whip portrays not only the detailed body and the form of the horse, but also its distinct expressions.  With less precise brushstrokes throughout the rest of the work except for on the horse’s face, Munnings reveals his concern for the horse as well as the light surrounding the horse and the rider.

19th century English Whistler-style frame (4029)
19th century English Whistler-style frame (4029)

In order to not overshadow his simplistic yet sensitive painting, Lowy placed the painting in a 19th century English Whistler-style frame.  Mirroring the period and the provenance of Munnings’s painting, the frame is not ornate but, more simplistic and graceful, reflecting Munnings’s treatment of the horse.

For more information on Lowy’s collection of frames, visit www.lowyonline.com or call 212-861-8585

Featured Frame of the Week

This week’s featured frame is a mid 17th-century cassetta frame with small painted figures and landscapes probably by Stefano della Bella. Lowy’s president, Larry Shar, discovered this exquisite frame on a buying trip in Paris and after a snack of foie gras, decided to bring it back for our showroom.

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On this blog we’ve discussed a number of painters and artists who also designed frames for economy’s sake or to specifically complement the ideas expressed in their artworks. In this rarer circumstance, Stefano della Bella has treated the frame as a canvas. Like a very small panel, or the Elgin Marbles, the vista expands and the story winds along the rectangular surface of the panel.

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Central scene of the east frieze of the Parthenon (image courtesy of The British Museum)

For more information on Lowy’s collection of 5,000 antique frames, please visit www.lowyonline.com or call 212-861-8585.

Featured Frame of the Week

This week’s featured frame is an American carved and gilt frame with corner and center flower-and-fruit clusters from the Boston-based American firm of Foster Brothers. Established in 1875 by Stephen Bartlett Foster and John Roy Foster, the brothers operated a factory, retail store and wholesale and mail order business from 1893 to 1942.

Foster bro

Along with the reeded top, interspersed straps, and foliate slight edge, this frame showcases the eclectic use of ornament in which the firm excelled. Combining patterns and embellishments derived from Byzantine, classical and Dutch motifs, Foster Brothers frames were refreshing and unmistakably modern. The brothers were entrusted to frame paintings by many important artists of the time, including Edmund Tarbell and William Paxton. Museums and connoisseurs preserve the historical accuracy of such works by pairing them with a Foster Brothers frame.

In a Garden, Edmund Tarbell (image courtesy of Milwaukee Art Museum)
In a Garden, Edmund Tarbell (image courtesy of Milwaukee Art Museum)

For more information on Lowy’s collection of 5,000 antique frames, please visit www.lowyonline.com or call 212-861-8585.

Patinas

The art critic John Ruskin wrote, “The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most. ” At Lowy Frame and Restoring Company, color enlivens the surface and texture of thousands of frames, which in turn enhances the mood and effect of the painting within.

To achieve various colors on gilded surfaces, we use patinas. A patina is a thin coat of tinted varnish applied gently over the gilded frame with a soft bristle brush and rubbed off with a cloth, resulting in a subtle coloration that mutes the gold’s sheen while fine-tuning its color to perfectly complement the palette of the art within.

 

Patinas are usually warm earth tones, such as yellow, tan, brown or red, although other colors, like the early 20th century’s gray casein, rose to prominence along with the au courant artistic movements.

Shown below are a variety of patinas applied to several different frame styles.

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For more information on Lowy’s framing services and our collection of more than 5,000 antique frames, please visit www.lowyonline.com or call 212-861-8585.

Featured Frame of the Week

This week’s featured frame is a rare Italian carved and gilt cassetta frame with a polychrome sgraffito frieze forming corners and centers. The frieze is made up of an acanthus pattern and complemented by rows of carved beaded ornaments.

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According to Greek mythology, the acanthus got its name from a beautiful wood nymph, Acantha, who was transformed into a spiny plant or tree by the god Apollo after she refused his romantic advances. The plant flourished in the Mediterranean, where it was first introduced as a design element. Acanthus leaves were extremely popular among artists and architects in ancient Greece and Italy, where they were used to adorn Corinthian capitals and other stonework.

A flowering of acanthus plants (image courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution)
A flowering of acanthus plants (image courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution)

The acanthus appeared in frame designs as early as the 15th century and has maintained its popularity among frame makers in different countries for hundreds of years. Imaginative interpretations of the leaf can be found on early Italian, Spanish and French frames and later on American frames of the 19th and 20th centuries. It was such a familiar symbol in the artistic world that when the Victorians developed the Language of Flowers, a dictionary of flowers and plants and the messages they communicated, the meaning ascribed to acanthus was “art” or “artifice.”

It took William Morris over 500 hours to complete his Acanthus and Vine tapestry design in 1879. (image courtesy of John Hopper’s Design Decoration Craft site)
It took William Morris over 500 hours to complete his Acanthus and Vine tapestry design in 1879. (image courtesy of John Hopper’s Design Decoration Craft site)

For more information on Lowy’s collection of 5,000 antique frames, please visit www.lowyonline.com or call 212-861-8585.

 

Announcing “Reflections with Connections”

Lowy’s clients and blog readers know that our artisans are renowned for creating masterpieces in traditional mediums, be it restoring an antique frame, crafting a replica frame or conserving a painting.

Last night, in a decidedly more modern aesthetic, Lowy debuted an exhibition of contemporary mirror frames by our own master gilder, artist and painter, R. Wayne Reynolds. This Lowy-exclusive exhibit, titled “Reflections With Connections,” will be on display through May 31, 2013.

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Historically, the mirror frame has often been designed to be “over the top” because it is free from the confines of the design of the painting or art it is presented with. “Reflections with Connections” takes a new look at the mirror as a decorative art object.

These mirror frames showcase natural elements with contrasting and harmonizing man made “frames” for the mirrors. Some are interactive and some are industrial, but all contain an unexpected combination of materials, including rare earth magnets, aluminum, white gold, handmade glass, vintage saw mill blades, polished slabs of Brazilian agates, petrified wood, handcrafted paper from Nepal, and a rare fabric woven from silk and peacock feathers, made in a small village in India.

This will be the third solo exhibition of master gilder Wayne Reynolds’ artwork in New York City. After graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a BFA in 1975, he founded a company dedicated to the 500-year-old craft of gilding. From 1980-1984, he worked as a frame conservator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, and was Head of the Gilding Department at Sotheby’s Restoration from 1998-2001.

“I’ve envisioned Reflections with Connections in my mind for years, so to see it come to fruition is quite a moment” said Reynolds.

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For more information on “Reflections with Connections” or any of the other pieces in Lowy’s inventory of more than 5,000 frames, please visit http://www.lowyonline.com or call 212-861-8585.