How the Framing Affects the Artwork

For many artists and galleries, framing is an essential part of the presentation process; in some cases it can even add to the artwork itself. To see how framing can affect the artwork we’re going to take a look at the still life paintings in our collection to see how their chosen frames (original or reproduction) affect the overall display and aesthetics of the piece.

Herman Courtens – Flowerpiece with Roses and MarigoldsAntique French antique 18th Century architrave frame.

Historical: A Social Statement

The views in regards to framing have changed throughout history; in the past, an extravagant frame was the completing feature that added to the extravagant nature of the artwork therefore, emphasising the status of the owner – artwork pre-modernism, was essentially to be aesthetically pleasing and a social statement. The frames of artwork in a post-modern world are often simpler.

Aesthetic Affects

Framing can affect the painting (or drawing) as a whole, allowing the viewer to see the whole picture rather than certain parts; making the artwork more powerful – it is a tool so that the viewer can completely immerse themselves in the painting. A frame can even be used to direct attention back into the artwork.

Aesthetics: The Extravagant


Victor Fontaine – Gueridon Fleurioriginal antique French 19th century Salon frame

This artwork; Gueridon Fleuri, is complete with its original Salon frame, which as you can see compliments the painting perfectly. The painting itself is highly decorative and fits remarkably well with the ornamental and luxurious affect of this grand and detailed frame. In this case the rich contrasting tones of red and fresh white are complemented beautifully with the golden frame. The frame certainly draws your eye to the centre piece and adds to the overall feeling of grandeur and decorative element of the piece.


Aesthetics: The Simplistic


George Weissbort – An Arrangement of a Loaf, a Jar of Red Peppers & White Linen on a ShelfReproduction Continental 20th Century Artists Frame


The 20th century reproduction artist’s frame on the Weissbort painting above is a much simpler than the extravagant 19th century frame that we discussed in regards to Fontaine’s piece. The frame itself adds to this work beautifully, complementing the tones of the background wonderfully whilst contrasting effectively with the bright red tones of the red pepper jar, allowing the subject matter to speak for itself. The pale creamy colour of the frame emphasises the shadow adding to the three dimensional affect whilst creating a warming, homely aesthetic.

Both the extravagant frame on the Fontaine artwork and the simpler feature on the Weissbort above, add to the general aesthetic and enhance the display.


Framing art cannot only affect the physical appearance of the artwork, but it can also increase the value of the artwork especially when it comes to period picture frames, such as the original antique French 19th century frame displayed featured on the Fontaine painting above.

A frame can add the finishing touch to an artwork adding to the general theme, aesthetic or even feeling. It can also add value and work as a tool to draw viewers into the painting and view it is as a whole. Of course, the style of frame (if original) will also depend on when the artwork was created; 19th century frames are far more extravagant whereas 20th century frames are much simpler (although this isn’t always the case).

Today, framing is a decision left completely up to the artist or the owner of the artwork; it is a question of personal preference and how it will affect the artwork.


About Mark Mitchell

Dealers in 19th-20th Century British and Continental Works of Art
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