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.