Purchased by my mother for about $15.00 at a local thrift shop, this sizeable Rococo reproduction painting was an excellent find. She asked me to frame it for her, prompting me to dig into the picture’s origins.
Rococo Reproduction Painting
The painting has no artist’s signature, and there are no identifiable markings on the stretcher or back. It is old, and there are visible signs of wear on the canvas and painted surface. There is a lot of dirt buildup and yellowing of the varnish. The canvas is very dry and brittle. There is cracking of the painted medium in certain areas, and the painting could use a restoration.
Narrow strips of wood and two fitted cross-members hold painted canvas in place. The frame is not outstanding in any way and is probably not original to the painting.
The composition of this painting is derived from elements of two famous paintings by Rococo artist Francois Boucher. (1703-1770) During a general search of the 17th through 19th-century painting styles, I stumbled upon a painting by Boucher, The Bird Cage (1763), that partially matched the reproduction painting. Further research into Boucher’s works led me to a second painting, The Shepherd’s Gift (1740), that matched another portion of the reproduction painting. You can imagine my excitement.
The Bird Cage draws from the man and woman. The artist might have referenced black-and-white images of the original paintings and thus the variation in clothing colors on the reproduction, but that’s just a guess.
In conclusion, researching this Rococo reproduction painting was a fun project.
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
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.)
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 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.
Some notable Victorian features are the oval sight and center frieze with a leopard pattern.
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.)
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.
Jennifer and I went antiquing today at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Haven and Antiques on the Farmington, both 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.
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.)
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.”
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.