Victorian Frame Still Life

Antiques on the Farmington, located in Collinsville, Connecticut, was home to this beautiful Victorian frame still life. Looking for suitable quality antique frames is always a highlight for me when I go antiquing with my wife, Jennifer. Finding old carved frames is rare in a typical shop, but there are usually many 19th and 20th-century frames to be seen. Loss of compo ornamentation is a common problem in picture frames from this period.

Victorian Frame Still Life

Victorian Frame Still Life.

The finish is original; however, it needs a serious cleaning. Notice the closed corners – the compo ornamentation lines up nicely, with intent and symmetry. Also, the compo is in relatively good condition, with only a few losses here and there. (look for the white spots where the compo has flaked off.)

Victorian Frame Still Life - corner close-up.

A notable design feature is the beaded sight edge. I am still determining what design is on the top edge, and I have found no reference in my many frame books.

In conclusion, this is a unique old frame. During my years of frame hunting throughout Connecticut’s many antique shops, this is the first time I have seen a frame designed like this.

We can see a Victorian portrait frame in the same shop.

Victorian Frame Portrait

We stopped at one of our favorite antique shop collectives, Antiques on the Farmington, located in Collinsville, Connecticut. We found this wonderful Victorian frame portrait with many excellent features and an engaging photographic image that is probably original to the frame. (I often wonder about the people depicted in these types of finds. Who were they, and what were they like? What did they do for a living, and what was their family like?)

Victorian Frame Portrait.

Victorian frame portrait.
Victorian frame portrait.

Some notable Victorian features are the oval sight and center frieze with a leopard pattern.

Victorian frame portrait - showing original finish luster and reflections.
Victorian frame portrait – showing original finish luster and reflections.

You often see today in antique frames that they have been over-painted with bronze or copper paint, or even worse, Shabby Chic. (gag!) Using bronze or copper paint was a common practice to cover up damaged areas of the finish rather than have the frames professionally repaired. One positive indicator that the original finish has been over-painted is the lack of luster and reflection that metallic-leaf (or true gold-leaf) often gives off, resulting in an overall flat appearance across the frame. Depending on the paint’s thickness, you will also notice a loss of detail in some design elements and compo ornamentation. (I’m not a fan of over-painted antique frames or Shabby Chic, but each to his own.)

Victorian frame portrait - corner close-up showing minor repair work.
Victorian frame portrait – corner close-up showing minor repair work.

In conclusion, this is a nice-looking Victorian frame despite some visible signs of touch-up and repair work. The frame is in good condition and retains much of its original finish, and I also like that it has a nice patina.

We can see a Victorian frame with still life in the same shop.

You can see a Victorian frame with still life that we found in the same shop.

Neoclassical Louis XVI or Neoclassical Empire Frame

Jennifer and I went antiquing today at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Haven and Antiques on the Farmingtonboth located in Collinsville, Connecticut. First, I always look for suitable quality antique frames whenever we go antiquing. On this day, we came across two noteworthy frames. One of the frames was a nice Neoclassical Louis XVI, or Neoclassical Empire Frame mounted to a 19th-century oil painting on canvas. The second frame was a Transitional Louis XV/Louis XVI Rococo Frame Reproduction. In this post, I will discuss the Neoclassical frame.

Neoclassical Frame

Neoclassical Frame with Waterfall Oil Painted Scene
Neoclassical Frame with Waterfall Oil-Painted Scene

Some of this frame’s notable Neoclassical design elements include the bead pattern, double-bead and reel pattern, plain cove, and the, most important, egg and dart pattern at the top edge. Also, the outer edge has a rais-de-Coeur design all around. (As seen in the last image at the bottom.)

Neoclassical frame - corner close-up
Neoclassical Frame – Corner close-up

Picture frame molding is often pre-fabricated in lengths up to 8 feet long that are measured, cut to the proper size, and joined at the corners. One telltale sign of this type of frame construction is mismatched design patterns and a visible corner seam, and these identifying features are also known as “open corners.”

Neoclassical style frame - corner close-up showing rais-de-coeur.
Neoclassical Frame – Corner close-up showing rais-de-Coeur

Overall, this Neoclassical Louis XVI or Neoclassical Empire Frame is in excellent condition and has no significant losses to the compo ornamentation. The finish is original and consistent throughout, with no overpainting or touchups. There are some minor stains along the bottom rail. Also, check out the Transitional Louis XV/Louis XVI Rococo Frame Reproduction from the same shop.

Transitional Louis XV/Louis XVI Rococo Frame Reproduction

Antiques on the Farmington in Collinsville, Connecticut had this fairly large Transitional Louis XV/Louis XVI Rococo frame reproduction. First of all this frame does not appear to be old, but it has the look and feel of the Rococo period. The Rococo “transitional” period lasted from c.1760 to c.1770, for those interested in knowing when in history you might have seen an original transition frame similar to this one.

Rococo Frame Reproduction

Transitional Louis XV - Louis XVI Rococo Frame Reproduction
Rococo Frame Reproduction

The most noteworthy Rococo-style features on this reproduction are the oval sight, elaborate corner foliate cartouches and swept sides and back. A nice contrast between the antiqued gold ornamentation and the faux wood finish on the inner portions of the frame are visible. In my experience however, I have not come across an authentic frame like this with different gold and wood areas.

On the subject of reproduction frames, I have found there are two kinds. The first kind will have features that can be linked directly back to the time-period in question. The second kind I would not call true reproductions. Some frame makers will take design elements from many periods and mash then together in such a way that you can’t tie it back to any specific historical period. For example, they might have Baroque Louis XIII features mixed with Neoclassical Louis XVI features. Now I don’t mean to imply that the latter can’t look good in their own right. I’m just saying there are true reproductions and “other” frames with old design elements incorporated into their designs. I believe this frame falls under the true reproduction kind.

Rococo frame reproduction - corner close-up showing faux wood finish.
Corner close-up showing faux wood finish.

In conclusion, I like this Transitional Louis XV/Louis XVI Rococo frame reproduction despite it being newer. A formal oil portrait would go nicely with this style of frame, with the mirror removed. (We also found a Neoclassical Louis XVI or Neoclassical Empire Frame.)