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Picture Framing and Art Preservation/Hanging a 5 ft painting on an 18 ft ceiling


I have a painting that is 66"H x 50" wide that I want to hang over my fireplace mantel.  The mantel is 56 1/2"" above the ground.  The room has great 2-story cathedral ceilings...the wall the painting will go on is 18-ft high.  How high off the mantel should I hang the picture?  I am thinking the bottom of the painting should be about 7-8" above the mantel?  Or should I hang it higher to draw the attention up to the tall ceilings?

First I'll tell you that there is no one right answer to this sort of question. Design is a matter of guidelines, not rules, and sometimes going against what everyone says results in a surprising but great look.

I think you're on the right track and hanging the painting so that the bottom of the frame is around eight to twelve inches from the top of the mantel would be a good choice. This way the painting is visually connected to the fireplace, the focal point of the room and the two together will draw your eye up. I don't think I would hang the painting much higher than that; otherwise it could look like the painting is just hanging up there in space and disconnected from the room.

Do you have any accessories on the mantel? If so I would hang the painting so that some of the taller accessories, a vase for example, would overlap the painting slightly to tie everything together.

Obviously hanging such a large painting is going to be a bit of work, especially over a fireplace. I would suggest getting a large piece of cheap brown kraft paper and cutting it to the exact outside dimensions of the framed painting. Then hang it with some small tabs of painter's tape so that you can try out a few different hanging heights before committing to putting hangers in the wall. It will save you a lot of time and hassle and you'll be able to get the painting in the right spot the first time.  

Picture Framing and Art Preservation

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David Lantrip, MCPF, GCF


I can answer questions about all aspects of framing, with special emphasis on preservation framing. Categories of artwork include works of art on paper, needlework, textiles, paintings on canvas and three-dimensional objects. Components of framing includes frames, glass/glazing, mats, mounting, their features and how to select them.


I have been a professional picture framer and educator in the field since 1994, including framing education for a major franchisor encompassing three brands and the Professional Picture Framers Association, and writing and teaching for DECOR Magazine.

Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) > Board member, PPFA > Member, Certification Board > Member, Chapter relations Committee National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR)

DECOR Magazine, 2005 - 2010 PPFA For Members Only newsletter Member of the PPFA Guidelines task force, assisted in writing PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Paper and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Canvas, and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Textiles and Needlework. Picture Framing Magazine, 2012

Georgia State University, many classes as a student and educator through the Professional Picture Framers Association and DECOR Magazine. Current member of the PPFA guidelines task force and certification board.

Awards and Honors
Earned Certified Picture Framer (CPF) designation in 1996, Master Certified Picture Framer (MCPF) designation in 2004 and Guild Commended Framer (GCF) status in 2008.

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