Picture Framing and Art Preservation/old picture frame


picture frame
picture frame  

picture frame
picture frame  
I have this very old picture frame that has been in the family for many years,and can you tell me what they would use it for. The size is 22 1/4'' x 19 1/2''
Thank you for your help

Fascinating! I can't be 100% certain but I can give you a pretty good educated guess. Last year I spent a vacation in Washington DC and while there I saw a wonderful exhibit of Pre-Raphaelite art at the National Gallery of Art. I noticed that a number of the frames on the paintings had glass in their frames and that near the top of the frames were what appeared to be latches like one might see on windows.

A couple days after that I was at the National Portrait Gallery and ran into the gentleman who is the frame conservator, so I asked him about it. He told me that the artists had worked with the frame makers to design the frames and that a lot of the Pre-Raphaelite artists preferred not to varnish their paintings. Because of this the glass provided protection from soiling that varnish would normally provide.

He also told that the hardware I saw were indeed latches and that the front of the frames were hinged, much like your frame. The artists had the frames made that way so that they could easily put a different painting in the frame if they wanted to.

So it appears your frame is made with a similar purpose in mind. It doesn't appear to have glass in it, but it may have at one point in the past. If you look inside the frame you might see evidence in the form of small nail holes where it was once held in place. If not, it could well be that the artist who once owned the frame simply wanted to be able to switch paintings out easily, say for different exhibits.

Based on what I learned and the appearance of your frame I'd place it in the mid to second half of the 19th Century.

Thanks for asking me about this!

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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