It’s Never Too Late – The Marriage of a 19th Century Portrait and Frame

by | Oct 7, 2021

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A Question of Engagement

Our client arrived with this beautiful antique portrait and a 19th-century gilded frame that they purchased from an antique store. At first glance it seemed to be the perfect match, however, the portrait width and height did not match that of the frame. The portrait was also stretched onto an underbuilt, weak strainer. We needed to figure out how to preserve the integrity of both pieces, yet pair them for a harmonious presentation.

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The 19th-century portrait upon arrival to our studio without a frame

 

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The frame arrived at the studio empty, and a different size than the portrait.

 

The Treatment

The painting was carefully stretched onto a new stretcher.  The painting was cleaned, and the paint layer stabilized.  The antique frame was surface cleaned, and the lifting areas of the gilded surface were consolidated.  The areas of loss ornamentation were replaced with casts made from other areas on the frame. The recreated areas were then gilded and toned to emulate age.  

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The losses on the antique frame were carefully infilled with casts made from ornamentation from other elements on the frame.

 

The Adaptation of the Frame

A series of three gilded small frame liners (fillets) were cut and installed to reduce the sight size (window opening) of the frame. When selecting and designing the layout of the fillets, great care was paid to emulate the aged frame finish and the historic design of the frame. The interior of the frame was built out to support the painting within.  A moisture-resistant backing board was installed on the back of the painting.

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Detail of the treated antique frame with the stacked liner.

 

Together Forever

With the careful attention to the modified design to marry the two pieces, one would assume that these have been together for generations.    Now that these two beautiful nineteenth-century pieces now united, their historical presentation should elegantly withstand the test of time.

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The 19th-century portrait and the 19th-century frame assembled together.

 

Contact us to learn more about how we can creatively assist with your conservation or framing project.

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