Lowy and The Layton Collection featured in Fine Art Connoisseur

In the August issue of Fine Art Connoisseur, Editor-In-Chief Peter Trippi pens an article about the Milwaukee Art Museum celebrating its 125th anniversary.  Two of the exhibitions mounted to commemorate this milestone focus on Frederick Layton (1827 – 1919), an English immigrant to Wisconsin who made his fortune in the meatpacking industry, and put together an impressive art collection throughout his life, which he donated to the Museum, creating The Layton Collection.

To read the article, click here.

4803William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 – 1905), Homer and his Guide, 1874, 82 ½ x 56 ¼” oil on canvas, gift of Frederick Layton to the Milwaukee Art Museum, with its new Lowy frame

As discussed in detail in our blogpost of May 3, 2013, Reframing Highlights of The Milwaukee Art Museum’s Layton Collection, Lowy had the honor of reframing several paintings in the Layton Collection in time for the anniversary.  One of the paintings was William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s Homer and his Guide, a large (82 ¼ x 56 ¼”) oil on canvas work dating to 1874.

Lisa Wyer, a senior Lowy consultant, selected an 1880s French gilt composition Barbizon-style frame with ogee profile and continuous finely detailed scrolling acanthus leaf ornamentation, almost identical in ornamentation to the original frame seen in archived photos.

 4803 corner

Detailed corner of the 1880s French gilt composition Barbizon-style frame selected to frame Bougoureau’s Homer and his Guide

For more information about the fine art framing and conservation services Lowy provides, please visit www.lowyonline.com or call 212-861-8585.

Frame of the Week – Framing with Light – The Hudson River School

This week’s featured work is a mid- to late 19th century American gilt composition cove frame with textured cove and fruit clusters at the corners.

0583 Fruit clusters accent the corners of this unique mid- to late 19th century American gilt composition cove frame

“The Hudson River School”, sometimes called the first school of American art, was a fraternity of 19th-century artists best known for their dramatic, grandly scaled depictions of American landscapes.

Thomas Cole, who was actually an English émigré, was the unofficial founder of the school, which also included Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt, and Asher Durand.

Several of the artists lived on New York’s Hudson River – hence the school’s name – and they all painted natural scenes, mountains, valleys, rivers, forests and other wonders of nature, that captured the majesty and unspoiled beauty of the new American frontier.

The Hudson River was famous for its beautiful, often pinkish light and artists of the time were fascinated by it.  Their paintings were infused with that special light that was almost spiritual in effect.  This luminance inspired an offshoot of the Hudson River School, and its artists were aptly named “Luminists”.

Thomas Cole believed that “the frame is the soul of the painting,” and other Hudson River School artists shared his interest in finding, or constructing the perfect frame.

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Detail of corner ornament and textured cove of this week’s frame

Compo was used to create beautiful ornaments inspired by nature, which were applied to layered moldings of significant depth and width, intended to draw the eye into the perspective of the scene and reinforce the majesty of the paintings they encased.

For more information on this frame or any of the 5000 frames in Lowy’s collection, please visit www.lowyonline.com or call 212-861-8585.

Reframing Highlights of The Milwaukee Art Museum’s Layton Collection

In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s foundational Layton Art Collection, Lowy reframed a selection of the collection’s significant paintings with frames specially chosen for their correlation with the history, provenance and style of the works.

In 1888, Fredrick Layton, a British-born billionaire, inspired by his exposure to and love of art and culture, decided to build an art gallery near Cathedral Square in Milwaukee, becoming the foundation of what would be the Milwaukee Art Museum.  The Layton Art Gallery was one of the first single-patron art galleries in the United States, a landmark for its time.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Homer and his Guide, 1874, oil on canvas (Courtesy Milwaukee Art Museum)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Homer and his Guide, 1874, oil on canvas (Courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum)

To underscore the importance of the Layton Collection to the Milwaukee Art Museum, the museum currently features three exhibitions of the history and art of the Layton Collection.  One of these exhibitions entitled Mr. Layton’s Gallery displays a floor-to-ceiling salon-style hanging reminiscent of the original Layton Art Gallery, which includes the seminal painting Homer and His Guide by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

Part of the Layton Art Gallery’s original collection, William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s Homer and His Guide carries on the Neoclassical tradition of 19th-century French painting.  Dominating French academic painting in the late 19th-century, Bouguereau often focused on religious or mythological subjects.  In Homer and His Guide, Bouguereau was inspired by Andre Chenier’s poem describing shepherds offering their services after hearing the blind Greek poet Homer praying for a guide.

An 1880s French gilt composition Barbizon-style frame with ogee profile and continuous finely detailed scrolling acanthus leaf ornamentation
An 1880s French gilt composition Barbizon-style frame with ogee profile and continuous finely detailed scrolling acanthus leaf ornamentation (4803)

From Lowy’s collection of over 5000 museum-quality frames, Lowy consultants selected a fine 1880s French gilt composition Barbizon-style frame with ogee profile and continuous finely detailed scrolling acanthus leaf ornamentation that has almost identical ornamentation to the original frame as seen in the archival photographs in the Layton Collection to frame this masterpiece.  The intricate pattern is a typical framing pattern used extensively in France and America during the 1880s.

John Sloan, Big Hat, 1909, oil on canvas (Courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum)
John Sloan, Big Hat, 1909, oil on canvas (Courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum)

Comprised mostly of European art, the Layton Collection also contains some of the most notable American artists such as John Sloan and his 1909 painting Big Hat.  One of the founders of the Ashcan School of American art, Sloan is best known for capturing urban genre scenes and neighborhood life in New York City.

An early 20th-century gilded American cassetta frame of reverse profile with stenciled design on a painted panel by the Newcomb-Macklin Company (6094)
An early 20th-century gilded American cassetta frame of reverse profile with stenciled design on a painted panel by the Newcomb-Macklin Company (6094)

For Sloan’s Big Hat, Lowy selected an early 20th-century gilded American cassetta frame of reverse profile with stenciled design on a painted panel made by the Newcomb-Macklin Company.  With showrooms in New York and Chicago, the Newcomb-Macklin Company was widely known for their beautiful early 20th-century frames.  In addition to the frame’s design being historically and aesthetically correct, the size of the frame fits Big Hat exactly, suggesting the possibility that the frame could be the original frame made for the painting.

Charles Willson Peale, Elizabeth McClure, 1774-75, oil on canvas (Courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum)
Charles Willson Peale, Elizabeth McClure, 1774-75, oil on canvas (Courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum)

Another remarkable American painting in the Layton Collection is Charles Willson Peale’s Elizabeth McClure.  Specializing in portraiture, Peale painted many important historical figures such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in addition to wealthy patrons.

A mid-18th-century English carved and gilded Louis XIV-style frame with continuously carved scrolls and floral sprigs (4746)
A mid-18th-century English carved and gilded Louis XIV-style frame with continuously carved scrolls and floral sprigs (4746)

Lowy framed Charles Willson Peale’s Elizabeth McClure with a mid-18th-century English carved and gilded Louis XIV-style frame with continuously carved scrolls and floral sprigs.  Many successful 18th-century portrait painters such as Peale purchased their frames in England due to the sophistication of English design and craftsmanship.  Seen on other portraits by Peale from this period, this particular frame design was popular in the mid-18th-century in England and France.

George Yewell, Portrait of Frederick Layton (Courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum)
George Yewell, Portrait of Frederick Layton (Courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum)

The last frame provided by Lowy to the Layton Collection surrounds a portrait of Frederick Layton himself.  Framing George Yewell’s regal Portrait of Frederick Layton, Lowy selected an 1880s French gilt composition Barbizon-style frame with ogee profile and continuous acanthus leaf ornamentation to both enhance the portrait, as well as complement the studied artistic tastes of the man whose art collection became what is now known as the Milwaukee Art Museum.

An 1880s French gilt composition Barbizon-style frame with ogee profile and continuous finely detailed scrolling acanthus leaf ornamentation (0050)
An 1880s French gilt composition Barbizon-style frame with ogee profile and continuous finely detailed scrolling acanthus leaf ornamentation (0050)

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

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 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.

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.

 

Featured Frame of the Week

This week’s featured frame is a Watts-style English composition frame. Working during the second half of the 19th century, G.F. Watts (1817-1904) was an artist associated with the Symbolist and Pre-Raphaelite painting movements. He is known for his massive mythological works and his emotive and unique portraits, as well as the signature frame he used to contain them.

WattsWatts’ frames feature a cassetta structure with gilt oak-veneered panels and applied rosettes. Sometimes punchwork or thin leaf patterns are used in the panels or moldings, but the overall layout is fixed. Because the gold is applied to the wood directly without gesso, the panel’s surface is less shiny and more textured than the composition frames that were frequently used at the time. In this and in the design’s delicate patterning, Watts’ frames show the Arts and Crafts movement’s influence through their celebration of natural forms. In fact, one of Watts’ frame in particular was produced to surround the artist’s portrait of William Morris, a renowned textile designer and artist who became one of the Arts and Crafts movement’s guiding forces.

G.F. Watts, William Morris (1834-96), 1870 (image courtesy of Watts Gallery)
G.F. Watts, William Morris (1834-96), 1870 (image courtesy of Watts Gallery)

For more information on Lowy’s collection of cassetta frames, Watts-style frames, or other pieces in our 5,000-frame inventory, please visit www.lowyonline.com or call 212-861-8585.