The right frame can greatly enhance the look of your artwork, while the wrong frame can detract from its overall appearance. I often say: a frame can make or break a work. Having said that, please keep in mind that framing is a matter of personal taste. One person may like a more ornate frame while another might prefer a much simpler frame – there is no real right or wrong.
For the most part, galleries that deal in historical works of art will often frame their works in the original frame, a period frame or a reproduction frame done in the style of a period frame. Now I am sure you want to know, what’s the difference?
The original frame – those selected by the artist, or his dealer/agent, for the painting when it was first created -- in some instances the artist may have actually created the frame. Again, these frame style can range from very simple to extremely ornate. When possible, it is nice to keep the original frame with the painting. What if you do not like the original frame? I always recommend storing it in a safe place and when you decide to sell the work, put it back in its original frame – they can add a lot of value to the work.
Period frames - produced during the era when the work was first created and may be similar to the one, or even the exact frame style that, the artist used to frame his/her work. While this is an excellent option, you need to keep in mind that looking for a period frame is time consuming and when you find the right one it may need to be restored, enlarged or even cut down ... this will add to its cost. Of course, you may get lucky and find an exact fit that is in perfect condition!
Reproduction frames – frames that are made today to look like the old frames and most importantly, they will be an exact fit. There are many options in terms of mediums – carved wood, composition/wood combinations, resin, etc. In addition, they offer you the ability to choose the finish – from painted, to metal leaf, to gold leafing and a host of others.
Today, many framers have software that will allow customers to upload images of their works and then place different frames on them so you can see the finished look before you buy. This take a lot of the guesswork and risk out of the 'picture'.
Now I am sure you are wondering: what will this cost? Frame costs run the gamut … from $20 or $30 for the simplest to over $100,000 for original period frames. Again, if you are buying from a gallery that deals in historical works of art, the painting should come framed – so there is no additional cost (as long as you like the frame style). At the higher end of the contemporary art world, many artists choose to have their works left unframed -- if this is the case, then there is no additional cost (unless you want it framed). If you are purchasing a work of art from a gallery that specializes in decorative works of art, then the frame will probably be an ‘extra’. These galleries often have frame samples on hand and will help you choose the one that is right for you.
If it turns out that you need to purchase or restore a frame, finding the right framer is similar to finding the right art dealer or conservator … do some research and learn about the different types/styles that are available and then determine which framers offer the widest selection and/or have the best restoration facilities. Should you decide to buy a ‘period’ frame, you will need to concern yourself with condition, quality, style and size – they all factor into the final price. If you choose the reproduction route then you will need to find those framers, or frame shops, that offer the widest choices of styles, finishes and quality. Keep in mind that in the reproduction world, the finely carved wood frames, finished in real gold leaf, will probably be the most expensive … while less detailed carved frames with metal or painted finished will be more affordable; but remember, like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
In the end, as with any work of art you purchase, buy what you like. You are going to live with it and really, who cares what the neighbors think!
The gallery has announced that along with its current projects, the catalogue raisonnés for Daniel Ridgway Knight (1839 – 1924) and Julien Dupré (1851 – 1910), it will begin compiling information and documentation on the life and works of Louis Aston Knight (1873 – 1948) and Emile Munier (1840 – 1895) for, what will begin as, Internet based checklists of each artist’s work.
We have often said that it is truly a shame that the majority of the great 19th century academic artists have been long forgotten and the available information on many of them is almost nonexistent. During their lifetimes, many of these artists enjoyed extremely successful careers and collectors from both Europe and the United States fought to acquire their works. By the 1920s the Academics were out of favor and their works were bought and sold purely for their decorative appeal. It was not until the 1960s that dealers and scholars began to look at these works as something more than just ‘decorative’ paintings.
Today scholars and dealers are exploring the contribution the Academics made to the history of art during the 19th century and once again, they are not only being prominently displayed in many of our museums, but are integral parts of scholarly exhibitions dealing with the art of the 19th century.
We are asking that anyone with information about the life and works of Munier and Aston Knight to please contact the gallery.
Sometimes, good things do happen! Last month I reported on a theft that had taken place in Naples, FL at the end of December. Our local paper has reported that undercover police have recovered the two works -Claude Monet’s Paysage a Vetheuil and Renoir’s La Place de Trinite – and that three men were charged with dealing in stolen property … chalk one up for the good guys!!
A few months ago I reported on the fact that someone sold a copy of David Klein’s Cortès book on eBay for $180.00. On February 9th, another copy surfaced and sold for $195.00. We have all seen how strong the demand for his original paintings has been during the past couple of years ... I guess the same is true for used copies of the book! Oh, by the way, we still have 10 ... no 9 ... now only 8, new copies for sale!
They are selling as I am writing this.
Howard L. Rehs
© Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City- March 2003
Gallery Updates: Many of you know that for the past few years we have attended the Lake Forest Art & Antique Show, Lake Forest, IL. We were informed, late last year that the show has been canceled … but have no fear; we have found another great venue! This year we will exhibit, for the first time, at the Chicago Botanic Garden's Antiques & Garden Fair. The show takes place in Glencoe, IL from April 11 - 13, 2003. We will be sending on more information about the exhibit and hope that many of our friends will be able to visit us there!
The gallery has also acquired new works by Édouard Cortès, Antoine Blanchard, Heidi Coutu and Sally Swatland – some of which have been added to our site.
Virtual Exhibitions: This month we have added one work to – Rehs Galleries: A Visual History … Edward Charles Williams’ The Old Roadside Inn. This work was painted in 1859 at the height of the artist’s career and is one of the most important works to have surfaced in years. A direct link is below:
Edward Charles Williams - The Old Roadside Inn
Since our last newsletter we have sold a number of wonderful works of art … many of which have been added to their respective Virtual Exhibitions. Among them were three important paintings by Daniel Ridgway Knight - Confidence; Les Cerisiers and Martha, A Days Sport - a large Vincent Clare: Still Life with Bird’s Nest - a number of Sally Swatland’s including: Collecting Minnows and Castle Builders, Todd’s Point - Antoine Blanchard’s Le Louvre, Passerelle des Arts and l'Arc de Triomphe (c.1968); a great early Cortès of Quai du Louvre (c.1930) and the important British landscape painting by Edward Charles Williams – The Old Roadside Inn – we mentioned earlier.
Next Month: Continuing on my “How to Care for Your Works of Art” series I will discuss - Storage!