Frame of the Week – A Modern Masters Favorite

This week’s featured work is a 17th century Baroque Spanish carved and gilt frame with carved scrolling corners and black painted panels.

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17th century Baroque Spanish carved and gilt frame

The Baroque style began in Italy at the beginning of the 17th century and then spread to the rest of Europe; the Baroque frames of this period in Italy and Spain were typically dramatic and sculptural, often featuring deeply carved scrolling corners and a dramatic receding profile which pushes the picture forward from the wall.  The panels of the frames were often painted for added contrast.  Fine examples of these frame designs were used on the paintings of artists such as Caravaggio in Italy or Velazquez and El Greco in Spain.

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Detail of frame showing the carved corner ornament

In the 20th century, the expressive quality of these bold designs has been widely used to complement the works of artists such as Picasso, Braque, Miro and Matisse.

Today, these frames are frequently used to frame Modern Masters and can be found in museums throughout the world.

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

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2013 Hampton Designer Showhouse features Lowy frames

Lowy is honored to be participating in the 12th annual Hampton Designer Showhouse, along with 30 other interior design and home furnishing companies, with the proceeds going to benefit the Southampton Hospital.

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The 2013 Hampton Designer Showhouse, Bridgehampton, NY  (courtesy of Hampton Designer Showhouse)

This year’s Showhouse is located in a charming, traditional shingle style house on Brick Kiln Road in Bridgehampton, NY.  Lowy designed three antique and period frame displays in the main gallery on the first floor.

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Lisa Wyer, Lowy’s Gallery Director with one of her frame installations at the 2013 Showhouse

Lisa Wyer, Gallery Director for the past 25 years, selected the frames for Lowy’s space and supervised the installations. “Lowy has over 5000 frames, dating from the 16th to the 21st century, so I had a lot to choose from,” said Wyer.

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A collection of Lowy’s early 20th century American Impressionist frames and two paintings by Simon Parkes

Groupings at the Showhouse include 18th and 19th century Swedish framed mirrors, a collection of black and silver frames ranging from 17th century Spanish to 21st century modern, suitable for use with paintings or as mirrors, and a group of early 20th century American Impressionist frames, along with two recent paintings by local artist Simon Parkes.

The Hampton Designer Showhouse is open to the public daily through Monday, Sept. 2.  Visit www.hamptondesignershowhouse.com for Showhouse hours, directions and admission prices.

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

Frame of the Week – A rare grille frame by Stanford White

This week’s featured work is a late 19th century American gilt composition frame of receding profile with raised grille panel, continuous front leaf-and-berry ornament, and acanthus leaf corners, designed by Stanford White and made by Joseph and Alexander Cabus.

7124Late 19th century American gilt composition frame with raised grille panel designed by Stanford White

The design of the grille frame can be traced back to pierced 16th century Venetian frames.  The concept was to use a space under the grille to gather and reflect light.  Stanford White accomplished this by using a burnished gold panel to emanate light from underneath a softer gilt composition wire framework above.

White’s frame designs were bold, brilliant and as memorable as the man himself.  He did not mark his frames with his initials or any other identifying symbols.  There was no need for him to do so because his frames were for the most part instantly recognizable.

At 26, White co-founded the prestigious architecture firm McKim, Mead and White.  He designed frames for artist friends as well as patrons, and reportedly did not charge for his designs and would not allow frame makers to duplicate them for anyone else.

White collected antique frames for inspiration and often reconfigured them as new frames.  Strongly influenced by the Italian masters, he favored more subtle designs and finishes (the introduction of the electric light in 1900 made earlier bright finishes seem garish), which he matched carefully to individual paintings.

The ornamentation on his frames was usually cast in composition, sometimes over a wire grille.  The frames were then gilded in gold or metal leaf, or finished with Roman bronze patina for a softer finish.

White favored the frame maker Joseph Cabus, who crafted his frames from 1882 to 1894.  Joseph’s son, Alexander, joined the shop in 1891.  White had a falling out with Alexander in the mid 1890s, after which Oscar Rudolph became his preferred frame maker.

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Detail of the raised grille panel

White designed frames for several artists, but one of his most successful collaborations was with the American painter Thomas Wilmer Dewing.  Dewing’s delicate, evocative, and even ghostlike paintings of women were enhanced by White’s golden grilles.  Susan Hobbs, Dewing’s biographer, describes them as looking like “gilded lace and shimmery teardrops.”

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

Frame of the Week – A classic Whistler-style frame

This week’s featured work is a 19thth century Whistler-style gilt and reeded frame.

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19th century American Whistler-style gilt and reeded frame, circa 1890

England was the first country to be transformed by the Industrial Revolution, and it was the first place where artists rebelled against it.  In the early 1900s, woodworking machines replaced artisans, mass-producing cheap, utilitarian frame moldings that could be quickly and easily embellished with composition ornaments.  The carvers who once spent years perfecting their skills became a dying breed.  There seemed to be little appreciation for their craft, and less demand for their expensive, time-consuming work.

The Pre-Raphaelite movement of the 1860s was born in part to protest this trend.  Artists, including Dante Gabriel Rosetti and William Morris, despised the impersonal materialism of the world around them and longed to go back to a time when arts and crafts were made by hand instead of by machine.  They were fascinated by visions of the colorful medieval world – of brave knights and ladies with Rapunzel-like hair – and created special frames to surround the poetic and fanciful images these figures inspired.

James McNeil Whistler (1834 – 1903), an American-born, British-based artist, rebelled against the Victorian fondness for highly ornamented frames, creating a frame style that expressed his personal aesthetic – stark and simple, with alternating panels and rows of reeded lines.   Whistler was a leader in the Aesthetic Movement, promoting “art for art’s sake”.

3402 cornerDetail of featured Whistler-style gilt and reeded frame

Whistler was known to put the image of a small butterfly, a monogram derived from his initials “JW”, on the front of his frames.  When he painted Harmony in Blue and Gold, he went so far as to sign the frame instead of the painting to guarantee that the original frame – the one he selected – would never be removed.

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

Lowy celebrates American craftsmanship

Lowy commissioned in-house Fine Art Photographer, M. Tramis, to create a collection of images featuring Old Glory in iconic New York City locations.  Then Lowy’s Master Gilder, R. Wayne Reynolds, designed exclusive custom contemporary frames that Lowy’s skilled craftsmen finished in 12-karat white gold.

Wave FrameMetropolitan Flag, M. Tramis, custom carved and gilded frame by Lowy

Reynolds said his inspiration for the design of the Metropolitan Flag frame was the classic motion of a flag waving in the wind.

Ex chFlags of Commerce, M. Tramis, custom gilded receding frame by Lowy

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Empire Flag, M. Tramis, custom molded and gilded frame by Lowy

The framed photographs are currently on display in Lowy’s upper eastside Manhattan showroom window through the end of July, and are available for purchase by calling 212-861-8585.  Lowy’s showroom is located at 223 East 80th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Manhattan.

Frame of the week: A Renaissance rarity

This week’s featured work is an extremely rare 15th century Florentine carved and gilt tabernacle frame with fluted pilaster and Corinthian capitals. 

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A rare carved and gilt tabernacle frame from 15th century Florence

During the Renaissance, Italy was the center of the frame world, and most frames were used in a religious context, typically carved out of the same piece of wood as the panel painting that surrounded it. 

In time, they were liberated from the ecclesiastical world that had been their primary home, and lighter, more versatile frames stepped out onto a new stage.  These frames were proudly displayed at court and in royal households, regal reminders of the wealth and elevated status of their owners.

The tabernacle, or aedicular frame, which first appeared in Italy in the early 15th century, was a smaller and more portable version of its architectural-inspired antecedents, often including pilasters and columns.  This kind of frame could add a touch of the sacred to more secular surroundings.

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Detail of 15th century Florentine tabernacle frame’s Corinthian capital

Whether on display in a church or in a palace, frames were significant works of art in their own right.  They were commissioned by rich patrons, who used them to display their wealth, and were fashioned by artists and artisans to showcase their talents.  In fact, it was not unusual for a patron to engage a carver to build a substantial frame before an artist was retained to create a painting for it. 

Frame and furniture workshops flourished throughout Italy and at that moment in time, the successful framer was equal to any artist, and the work of one complimented the work of the other. 

The tabernacle style frame has retained its popularity for centuries.  In a blog post two weeks ago, (June 11), we featured an exquisite tabernacle frame designed by Stanford White circa 1900.

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

Frame of the Week

This week’s featured work is a silver-leaf frame of reverse profile with incised rosette corners, inner and outer incised zigzag bands and notched carvings by frame maker Frederick Harer.

ImageSilver-leaf frame by Frederick Harer featuring a reverse profile and incised rosette corners, early to mid 20th century, from the Lowy Collection

Harer (1879 – 1948) was an artist, furniture maker and frame maker in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  He created imaginative and beautifully handcrafted frames for paintings by artists of the Pennsylvania School of Impressionism, including Daniel Garber and Edward W. Redfield.

Inspiring other frame makers of the region, such as Bernard Badura (one of his students), Francis Coll, Raymond Vanselous and Philip N. Yates, Harer helped to establish Bucks County as a vital frame center of the Arts & Crafts Movement in the early 20th century. 

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Detail of silver-leaf frame by Harer showing the reverse profile and incised rosette corners

Harer began making frames to support himself while studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  The son of a successful furniture maker, he also proved to be a very skilled craftsman, designing frames for prominent artists in New York and Boston, such as Leopold Seyffert and William Paxton.  His travels to the British West Indies and Spain influenced his rich style, which incorporated primitive motifs and old-world techniques.

Next month, Lowy is participating in the Hamptons Designer Showhouse (http://hamptondesignershowhouse.com/) in Bridgehampton, and this Harer frame is featured as part of Lowy’s design.

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