Serge Roche: Cadres français et étrangers du XVe siècle au XVIIIe siècle – Part 2

by The Frame Blog

0 Cover 2 Serge Roche

This article comprises a second part of the collection of historic frames assembled in a series of photographs as Cadres français et étrangers du XVe au XVIIIe siècle… by the French designer, Serge Roche (1898-1988). The whole folio formed a companion to his unique – and uniquely important – exhibition of frames at the Galerie Georges Petit in 1931: L’exposition international di cadre du XVe au XXe siècle [1]. For a brief introduction to Roche and Petit, and for the first section of frames, see Part 1. Both articles are written in collaboration with Andrew Levi; the frames in both are all French, and with this section it has only been possible to track down one of the frames from Roche’s plates [2] (the examples in colour are, except for that one, all comparative).

1A Plate 31

Plate 31 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Régence: Cadre en bois sculpté doré. 98 x 81, vue [sight]’

Serge Roche seems to have had an unerring eye for the most beautifully composed and carved designs; before the much larger and more European event at the Georges Petit gallery, he had had an earlier exhibition of French frames in his own flat,

‘…selling no less than around 100 of them in two weeks. Most of them had been returned from England where they had ended up after being sold off during the 1789 Revolution.’ [3]

The Régence frame in Plate 31 is an indication of his discrimination and taste; it is an instance which epitomizes the style lying between a Louis XIV pattern, with its overall small, shallow, calligraphic type of ornament, and a Louis XV frame, with S-scrolling contours and much deeper, more sculptural corners and centres (of course, there are also straight-sided Louis XV frames, with little ornament). A Régence frame involves the full tide of Louis XIV decoration withdrawing to the corners and centres, and coalescing in there in much deeper relief, whilst the rails between are either bare of ornament or feature geometric strapwork and diapering or a few restrained leafy sprigs. The profile of a Régence frame is usually more complex than earlier profiles, as well. The frame above has fans of plumes at the corners, fringed with lambrequins and set amongst deeply-carved and entwined foliate scrolls and rinceaux with florets; whilst the centres  have delicate spiny shells, like spiders’ webs.

1B Hyacinthe Rigaud after Louis XV as a child c1716to24 Met Mus New York

1C Hyacinthe Rigaud after Louis XV as a child c1716to24 detail

Hyacinthe Rigaud (after; 1659-1743), Louis XV as a child, c.1716-24, o/c, 77 x 55 ½ ins (195.6 x 141 cm.), and detail, Metropolitan Museum, New York

A comparable Régence frame which has retained its painting is the massive trophy frame on this ‘coronation’ portrait of Louis XV (he was crowned in 1722, at the age of thirteen, and the painting may possibly pre-date the ceremony itself). It is almost four times the size of Roche’s frame, and the carving is correspondingly weighty, with large fleur-de-lys at the corners, cartouches with fanned lambrequins at the lateral centres, and the armorial bearings of France supporting the coronation crown at the crest. It gives gravity and authority to the embryonic king, who otherwise looks as if he is playing at power.

1D Boucher The toilette of Venus 1751 Alluding to Mme de Pompadour Mistress of Louis XV Met Museum NY

Boucher (1703-70), The toilette of Venus, 1751, o/c, 42 5/8 x 33 ½ ins (108.3 x 85.1 cm.), Metropolitan Museum, New York

The frame of Boucher’s Toilette of Venus is much nearer in size to Roche’s Plate 31; it has very sculptural fanned lambrequin corners and shell centres, with minimal strapwork bordering the panels of the frieze and knotted in small sprigged bosses at the demi-centres. However, it is too early and too straight-edged for its subject; Boucher’s panna cotta Venus really demands Rococo asymmetry, and its frame would be happier with one of Largillièrre’s swagger men amongst columns.

2 Plate 32

Plate 32 of Cadres français et étrangers…: ‘Epoque Régence: Cadre en bois sculpté doré. Diamètre: 21’

A charming square frame with integrated spandrels for a circular painting, only 8 ¼ inches across; this might have been used for a small-scale pastoral or fête galante. It is very pleasing as a piece of simple and effective sculpture in itself, and also for its obvious ability to marry a decorative work to a Régence interior.

3 Plate 33

Plate 33 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Projet de cadre par Gille Oppenort (1672-1742), aux Armes d’Orléans’ [drawing for a frame with the arms of the Regent of France, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris]

4 Charles Boit Charity enamel plaque with frame Jean Le Blanc gilt bronze 1718 Musée du Louvre ed

Charles Boit, Charity, enamel plaque with frame by Jean Le Blanc, gilt bronze, 1718, after design by Gilles-Marie Oppenordt (1672-1742), Musée du Louvre

Bruno Pons tracked down the frame made from the drawing by Oppenordt to this diploma work produced by Jean Le Blanc in 1717 as his admission piece to the Académie royale de Peinture et Sculpture; see ‘18th century French frames and their ornamentation’. Le Blanc was a metalworker who worked for the French Crown, and was evidently the protégé at this point of the Regent, the duc d’Orléans, whose portrait is on the silver medal on the left, and whose arms are on the apron at the base. The Regent also presented to the Académie, at the same time, the enamel plaque of Charity by Charles Boit, which remains with the frame.  There are slight differences in ornament between the drawing and the gilt bronze frame as it was made, but the latter is evidently based on the former. It reveals how closely the carved detail and diapered gesso of a giltwood frame could be imitated in another medium by a skilled artist.

5A Plate 34

Plate 34 of Cadres français et étrangers…: ‘Epoque Régence: Cadre en bois sculpté doré, 61 x 50, t[otale]’

5B Stella Minerve chez les Muses

Jacques Stella (1596-1657), Minerve chez les Muses, c.1640-50, o/c, 116 x 162 cm., Musée du Louvre

5C Details of Plate 34 & Stella

Details of Plate 34 and the frame of Stella, Minerve…

 The variety of designs within the constraints of Régence style is surprisingly vast, and demonstrates  the imaginative capacity of 18th century carvers. The frame of the Stella paired here with the frame in Plate 34 differs in its profile (convex, rather than an ogee with an ovolo moulding at the top edge), but it has been chosen because the motifs of centres and corners are practically identical in both, but have been reversed – that is, the centres of the Stella echo the corners of Plate 34, and vice versa – whilst the rinceaux which trail their foliage, bits of strapwork and cosses de pois along the rails are very similar.

6 Plate 35

Plate 35 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Régence: Cadre en bois sculpté doré aux armes de France, 61 x 50, t[otale]’

6B Plate 35 detail & detail of Rigaud Louis XV

Details of Plate 35 and of Rigaud, Louis XV as a child, c. 1716-24, Metropolitan Museum, New York (shown at the beginning of this article)

This small trophy frame, with the crown and royal coat of arms on the fronton, echoes the extremely large frame of Rigaud’s Louis XV, shown earlier. It is two feet tall overall (Rigaud’s canvas alone is well over six feet high), and probably held a portrait bust or a miniature full-length; but the two frames together give a striking demonstration of the abilities of carvers to scale the same design up or down, together with all the elaboration of ornament and symbol.

7 Plate 36

Plate 36 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Cadres en bois sculpté doré. I Régence, 79 x 64, vue; II Régence, 39 x 31, vue; III Louis XV, 17.5 x 13, vue’

7D Poussin Triumph of Silenus NG

Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), Triumph of Silenus, c. 1636, o/c, 142.9 x 120.5 cm., National Gallery, London

This is one of five examples of frames on Poussin’s work used in this article as comparisons with the frames in this section of Roche’s folio. None of them is chronologically anything to do with what might originally have framed Poussin’s paintings, and all of them help to demonstrate the way in which pictures by a prominent and sought-after painter are consistently reframed, often in successively more enriched and grand-luxe designs. This frame is close in its profile and corner motifs to the outer frame in Roche’s Plate 36; it’s almost four times as large, and what would otherwise have been long and plain reposes between the corners and centres have been decorated with delicate panels of Berainesque strapwork, giving the whole frame a rich but muted textural interest. It is apparent from the compositional lines of the painting that Poussin was working in the expectation of another frame pattern entirely – one without prominent corners and centres – but this kind of marriage must have lain in wait for so many of the frames which Roche had collected.

8 Plate 37

Plate 37 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Régence: Cadre en bois sculpté doré, 41 x 33, t[otale]’


Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), The birth of Venus, 1635-36, o/c, 97.2 x 108.1 cm., Philadelphia Museum of Art (from the collection of Catherine II of Russia)

8C Detail of Plate 37 & Poussin Birth of Venus

Detail of Plate 37 and of Poussin, Birth of Venus

Here is another Poussin in an even grander Régence frame, with more deeply carved ornament and a greater sculptural presence than the much smaller frame it is paired with. Again, the profiles and corner cartouches are very similar in both; but the calligraphic foliate strapwork of Roche’s frame would perhaps be more in keeping with the scale of the painted figures. The frame on the Birth of Venus has all the aggrandisement and  virtuosity of a great collector’s choice, and is a Baroque salute to Poussin’s stature. The painting is almost certainly that described by Germain Brice in 1713 in the Hôtel de Bretonvilliers [4], where Poussin’s Golden Calf and Red Sea also hung (see below), and the frame is very similar in style and profile to theirs, although with differences in motif.

9 Plate 38

Plate 38 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Régence: Cadre en bois sculpté doré, 92 x 73, t[otale]

10 Louis XIV oval frame 36 x 29 ins Diego Salazar

Louis XIV oval frame, 36 x 29 ins, Diego Salazar

10B Details of Plate 38 & Louis XIV oval frame

Detail of Plate 38 and Louis XIV oval frame

The Régence frame in Plate 38 has moved on from the style of the Louis XIV oval; the decoration on the main hollow (which replaces the earlier ogee) has opened out and is sparser – more lyrical and less opulent – but it is bordered by multiple lines of running ornament. It also has a modestly riotous fronton of ribbons, scrolls and flowers which is derived from Louis XIII-XIV flower-corner frames, and looks forward to the elaborate frontons of Rococo and Louis XVI styles.

11 Plate 39

Plate 39 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Régence: Cadre en bois sculpté doré, 59 x 46, vue’

An exuberantly decorative frame, this may even be an advertisement for the carver’s and répareur’s skills. It is almost absurdly enriched with carved and recut ornament over every inch of the surface, save only the small plain cavettos inside the back edge, and it is easier to think of it hanging on a dealer’s wall, as a visual glossary of the effects the framemaker could provide, than to imagine what sort of painting it might once have housed.  It has probably found a final career as a looking-glass frame, given how few paintings could withstand so much close-up decoration; but it’s an extraordinarily beautiful advert for some extraordinary skills.

12 Plate 40

Plate 40 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Régence: Cadre en bois sculpté doré, 61 x 50, t[otale]’

This is another extravagantly decorated frame, the whole surface covered either with carved or gesso ornament; but the small-scale nature of the latter across the area of the frieze makes it certain that this was designed as a rich but very desirable portrait frame.

13 Plate 41

Plate 41 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Régence: Cadres en bois sculpté doré. I 116 x 89, t[otale]; II 41 x 27 t[otale]’

13B French Régence frame 62x53.5cm 1stdibs

French Régence frame, 62 x 53.5 cm.,

13C Details of Plate 41 & of French Régence frame

Details of Plate 41 and Régence frame

Further similarities of centres, corners, running ornament and the distribution of pattern across three frames. The outer arched design in Plate 41 might well have held a sacred painting, although it is free of any symbolic motifs; it might also be a Régence version of the round-arched Louis XIV frame used to hold a carved Crucifixion.

14 Plate 43

Plate 43 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Cadres en bois sculpté doré; I Louis XV, 65 x 54, t[otale]; II Régence, 35 x 27, t[otale]’

14B Plate 43 Degas Dancer onstage Met Mus NY

Degas (1834-1917), Dancer onstage, c.1877, gouache/ paper/board, 17.8 x 22.9 cm., Metropolitan Museum, New York

The inner frame in Plate 43 may be the one in which Degas’s Dancer onstage is recorded as having entered the Metropolitan Museum, New York, in 1973 (the museum cannot currently confirm this, nor find the frame). It is more likely to be this one than the frame suggested in Part 1 of these articles, for which the size is not correct. The Notes in the Met’s online catalogue entry state that,

‘The frame in which this picture entered the museum was exhibited in 1931 at the Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, in the “Exposition de cadres français et étrangers . . . ,” no. 198 (as “Cadre bois sculpté doré. Style Régence. XVIIIe siècle. 21 x 16,” lent by M. Serge Roche).’

The frame in Plate 43 seems to be the only Régence example with the correct proportions, although the overall size is given on the plate, rather than the sight measurements. It epitomizes the taste for Baroque French frames on Impressionist paintings which arose between dealers and collectors (with some approval by the artists) during the last third of the 19th century, and which still endures today – although Degas himself would hardly have accepted this style for his own work [5].

15A Plate 44

Plate 44 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Cadres en bois sculpté doré; I Louis XV, 81 x 65, t[otale]; II Régence, 22 x 16, t[otale]’

15B Poussin Adoration of the Golden Calf National Gallery London

Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), Adoration of the Golden Calf, 1633-34, o/c, 153.4 x 211.8 cm., National Gallery, London

Poussin’s Adoration of the Golden Calf, and its pendant in Melbourne, The crossing of the Red Sea, have the grandest and most sculptural of Régence frames, given them when they were inherited from his father by Jean-Baptiste le Ragois de Bretonvilliers in 1700. In 1710 he redecorated the state rooms of his house in Paris, the Hôtel de Bretonvilliers, reframing these two Poussins along with The rape of the Sabines and The birth of Venus (see above). They are all notable for their beautifully choreographed sequence of carved ornaments, which flow along the rail in a rhythm of scrolling foliage, strapwork, and cartouches which hold the corners, centres and demi-centres. The ground of the rail is textured with very fine cross-hatching or diapering, contrasting with the smooth surfaces which are matte or burnished, all of which gives a great variety of reflected light, bringing the whole frame alive in a shimmer of movement and adding to the animation of the painting.

15C Details of Plate 44 & Poussin Golden Calf

Details of Plate 15 and Poussin, Golden Calf

 None of Roche’s frames is quite on a par with the four frames on these Poussins, but the much smaller example shown in Plate 44, with its ogee profile and diapered hollow, has a similar vocabulary and treatment, and may even have come from the same workshop.

16 Plate 46

Plate 46 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Louis XV: Cadre en bois sculpté, 35 x 27, t[otale]’

16B Lancret Outdoor concert with the beautiful Greek & amorous Turk 58.2x74.5cm Sotheby s 14Oct2020 Lot32Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743), Outdoor concert with the beautiful Greek & amorous Turk, o/c, 22 7/8 x 29 ¼ ins (58.2 x 74.5 cm.), Sotheby’s, 14 October 2020, Lot 32

16C Details of Plate 46 & Lancret

Details of Plate 46 and Lancret, Outdoor concert

 Plate 46 and Lancret’s Outdoor concert… are examples on a similar scale of frames in full Rococo taste which integrate an oval sight with a swept contour, using rocaille, shell and foliate motifs, along with small florets and a textured ground. They are supremely decorative on a small scale, and would have been designed to marry with an interior of boiseries in similar style. Roche’s frame may also have held a fête galante originally, oriented in either direction, or a small upright portrait.

17 Plate 47

Plate 47 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Louis XV: Cadre en bois sculpté doré aux Armes du Roi Louis XV et de Marie-Leczinka, 65 x 54, t[otale]’

17B La Tour Louis XV

Maurice-Quentin de La Tour (1704-88), Louis XV, Salon 1748, & detail, pastel on paper, 65 x 54.3 cm., Musée du Louvre

17C Plate 47 detail & La Tour detail

Details of Plate 47 and La Tour, Louis XV

 Another plate illustrating a royal trophy frame; this one is in grand Louis XV style (although rather smaller than the frame on the La Tour portrait), whilst the latter is a slightly later Rococo model – based on the crown and the use of rocailles – although this is possibly not the painting’s original 1748 frame [6]. The pendant portrait of the queen by La Tour probably retains its original frame by Louis Maurisan, but has lost the coat of arms from the cartouche in the fronton [7]; the frame in Plate 47 has the arms of both king and queen, and either held a small double portrait, or, more likely, is one of a pair. The frame of La Tour’s queen is delicately cut with diapering over the ground of the hollow, whilst the ground of Roche’s frame has enriched carved diapering, giving it – for its size – an assertive opulence.

17D Fragonard Young girl reading c1769 o c 81.1x64.8cm NGA Washington

17E Fragonard Young girl reading detail

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), Young girl reading, c.1769, o/c, 81.1 x 64.8 cm., and detail, National Gallery of Art, Washington

In this respect Plate 47 has a similarity to the Rococo frame of Fragonard’s Young girl reading, which has panels of enriched quatrefoil diapering between rocaille corners and centres, held, as in the Roche frame, in raised, twisted and undercut foliate buds (called in French by the ugly and inappropriate name of pigs’ tails).

18 Plate 48

Plate 48 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Louis XV: Cadre en bois sculpté doré aux Armes de Madame de Pompadour. 90 x 75’

18B Frame w arms of Mme de Pompadour c1755 gilded in 2 colours 69x46.4cm with stand private coll Paris 1

Frame on stand, with the arms of Mme de Pompadour, c.1755, gilded in two shades, 69 x 46.4 cm., private collection, Paris

18C Plate 48 detail & detail of Pompadour frame on stand

Details of Madame de Pompadour’s arms from Plate 48 and the frame above

The marquise de Pompadour did keep the marchands-merciers going with her accumulation of furnishings and objets d’art, and several frames still exist with her coat of arms (although one of the grandest was adapted, possibly whilst in the Rothschild collection, to house a Gainsborough portrait) [8] . The frame in Plate 48, with its Germanic slenderness of rail and emphatic corners, may have held a painting of some royal event or ceremony; or perhaps a topographical view of one of the Pompadour’s properties. Her arms hang against a fringed and textured cloth of state, beneath a delicate and regal-ish coronet.

19 Plate 50

Plate 50 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Louis XV: Cadre en bois sculpté doré, 41 x 33, t[otale]’

19B Details of Plate 50

Details of Plate 50: bagpipes on the crest; rustic hat, bag and arrows at the base

This is a frame which nods to the many hunting trophy frames of the period, but is much more in the pastoral shepherd style of decoration than the hound and dead game genre, seen in the drawing by Meissonier, below. The bagpipes in the fronton, tied with ribbons and flowers, set the tone; the apron at the base holds a beribboned hat, a bag and two arrows (which are more likely to belong to Eros than to Adonis). The painting which this frame housed was probably a Watteau-ish subject of elegant pseudo-peasants frolicking with lambs and musicians in the kind of park approved of by Alexander Pope, where Nature has been invisibly tamed by Man.

20B J A Meissonier Oeuvre pl 41

J-A. Meissonier (1695-1750), design for the frame of La chasse du RoyOeuvre, pl. 40-41 & detail

20 Plate 52

Plate 52 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Louis XV: Cadre en bois sculpté naturel, 128 x 96, vue’

Plate 52, where the frame has unusually been left in the wood rather than gilded or painted, is in flamboyant Rococo style, symmetrical on the vertical axis, and with flyaway swirling rocailles. The lack of gesso or any other finish enables the carved ground of quatrefoils to be clearly seen and appreciated, and its subtle enhancement of the narrow friezes to be understood. The fronton is supported by branches of bay leaves, and the bottom centre shell forms a basket brimming with roses. This frame must have been intended for a three-quarter-length society portrait, probably (although not necessarily) that of a woman.

21 Plate 53

Plate 53 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Louis XV: Cadre en bois sculpté doré, 252 x 175, vue’

This frame, even larger than the last, looks at first glance even more asymmetrical; unfortunately the loss of an ascendant scroll on one of its upper corners has left it with a rather rakish air, and – wherever it has vanished to – it would be nice to imagine its having been restored to a better balance.

22 Plate 54 details of Plate 53

Plate 54 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Détails du cadre précédent’ [of Plate 53]

It has an open fronton holding an urn and festoons of flowers, and the various architectural mouldings (mostly in short lengths) which blend with its shells and rocailles, are very finely worked, as are the conch-shaped cartouches at the lateral centres, carved with gambolling putti. It may well have been the frame for a full-length betrothal or marriage portrait.

23 Plate 55

23 Plate 55 detail

Plate 55 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Cadres en bois sculpté doré. I Milieu de XVIIIe siècle. 61 x 57, vue…’, and detail

The strapwork structure of the outer circular frame in Roche’s Plate 55 is unusual; it derives from a much earlier style than this 18th century (or could it possibly be rather later?) design – from the curling, intertwining, cut and scrolling strapwork forms which imitate the shape and behaviour of  a calf- or lambskin prepared as a sheet of vellum – which would, in 17th century Britain, have been known as a ‘leatherwork’ frame.

23B Noël Bellemare d1546 Livre d heures de Claude de Guise MS 654 fol 91v 1501to50Noël Bellemare (d.1546), Livre d’heures de Claude de Guise, MS. 654. fol. 91v, 1501-50, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Paris. Source / Bibliothèque nationale de France

23C Fontainebleau interior
Primaticcio (1504-70), detail of strapwork in the stuccowork of the Chambre de la duchesse, 1541-48, Château de Fontainebleau 

An example of a ‘framed’ miniature from the Livre d’heures de Claude de Guise illustrates one incarnation of this style, which also appears in three dimensions in, for example, the stuccowork at Fontainebleau; both date from the first half of the 16th century.

23D French School C17 Christ as the Man of Sorrows o c 39.4x31.5cm Christie s 24Oct2012 Lot90

French School, 17th century, Christ as the Man of Sorrows, o/c, 39.4 x 31.5 cm., details of crest and centre of bottom rail, Bonhams, 15 April 2021, Lot 54 

23E French School C17 Christ as the Man of Sorrows o c 39.4x31.5cm Christie detail crest

Detail of Plate 55, with bullrushes spporting the crown of thorns at the crest, and the three nails of the Crucifixion at the base

The symbolic elements of Roche’s circular frame can be found, however, in other 18th century giltwood frames: the three nails of the Crucifixion and naturalistic bullrushes are traditionally used to link Moses, the Old Testament saviour of the Israelites, with Christ, the Saviour of the New Law. Bullrushes refer to Moses having been found as a baby amongst the rushes by a princess of Egypt, and also signify the strength and endurance of the Church.

24 Plate 56

Plate 56 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Louis XV: Cadre en bois sculpté doré, 61 x 50, t[otale]’

A straight-edged Louis XV frame, with ribbon-bound fasces at the top edge, acanthus leaf-&-bud at the sight, and otherwise only a pair of flirtatious putti to soften its linearity. This might be the economic alternative to Rococo S-scrolls, elaborate corners and centres, and textural diapered grounds; it might also be one from a hang of family portraits within a confined space. Frames in every style are infinitely adaptable, in terms of structural elaboration, ornament, and cost.

25 Plate 57 with arms of the dauphin

Plate 57 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Louis XV: Cadre en bois sculpté doré aux Armes du Dauphin. 27 x 22 cm t[otale]’

This is a tiny frame (10 5/8 x 8 5/8  ins overall), rather like a modern photo frame, and – if these are really its original dimensions – would have held a largish miniature or perhaps a dressing glass from a nécessaire de voyage.   The ‘arms’ of the dauphin are reduced to the fleur-de-lys of France at the base, the small wriggly dolphin in the pierced rocaille of the fronton, and the rather Disneyish spouting dolphin’s head at the crest. It is designed in the full flow of the Rococo line of beauty, all counterpointed S- and C- scrolls, swooping rocailles and fanned lambrequins, with small sprigs of bay leaves supporting the fronton.  A drawing for a full-scale frame with the dauphin’s armorial bearings and crown in the fronton can be found in Bruno Pons’s article ; it includes paired turtle doves in the corner shown, and may have been intended for a marriage portrait and its pendant. Any carved dolphins might perhaps have found their way to the base of the frame. Further dolphins can be found on La Tour’s portraits of the dauphin and dauphine in the Louvre [9].

26 Plate 58

Plate 58 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Louis XV: Cadre en bois sculpté doré, 130 x 90, vue’

26B Poussin Inspiration of the poet Mus du Louvre

Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), L’inspiration du poète, c. 1629, o/c, 183 x 213 cm. (enlarged on all sides, Musée du Louvre 

26C Details of Plate 58 & Poussin Inspiration of the poet

Details of Plate 58 and Poussin, L’inspiration du poète

Another Poussin in a Rococo frame brings alive the very similar frame in Plate 58, with rocaille corners and centres, and florets in the otherwise plain hollow. Well over a century later than the painting, it invests Poussin’s classicism with a slightly frivolous air. Roche’s frame almost certainly held a portrait which would have married stylistically with its decorative details; elements of costume, lace, flowers worn or carried, and even the manner of dressing the hair being infused with the shapes and lines of the Rococo.

27 Plate 59

Plate 59 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Louis XV: Cadre en bois sculpté doré, 106 x 74, vue’

27B Nicolas Poussin Holy Family SS Anne Eliz & John the B 1649 o c 79x106cm Russborough now NGI

Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), The Holy Family with SS Anne, Elizabeth and John the Baptist, 1649, o/c, 79 x 106 cm., ex-collection of Russborough; now National Gallery of Ireland 

27C Details of Plate 59 & Poussin Holy Family

Details of Plate 59 and Poussin, The Holy Family

The Holy Family is housed in a similarly anachronistic frame, which may even be the setting (turned on its side) for a Rococo portrait. This frame is close to Roche’s Plate 59, having shells and fanned lambrequins instead of rocailles, but giving a good idea of how Roche’s frame would have looked in full-colour.

28 Plate 60

Plate 60 of Cadres français et étrangers… : ‘Epoque Louis XV: Cadre en bois sculpté doré, 25 x 20, vue’

28B Boucher Mme de Pompadour at her toilette 1750 Fogg Museum Harvard Art Museums

François Boucher (1703-70), Madame de Pompadour at her toilette, 1750, o/c, 31 15/16 x 25 9/16ins (81.2 x 64.9 cm.), Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums 

28C Follower of Watteau Fête galante o c 83x109 cm

Watteau (follower; 1684-1721), Fête galante, o/c, 83 x 109 cm., Art market

The final frame in this section of plates is another rectangular swept form with an oval sight and integrated spandrels – the latter almost entirely covered by the proportionately immense shell corners in their rocaille nests. It is similar to the frame of Boucher’s Madame Pompadour, and probably held a related, although much smaller, portrait. It is even more decorative than the latter, however, with its scrolling rails lined with tiny roses and lack of unornamented space, and in this respect is more like the restless surface of the frame on the Fête galante above.

28D Details of Plate 60 Boucher & Watteau

Details of Plate 60, Boucher, Mme de Pompadour, & Watteau follower, Fête galante


With grateful thanks to Andrew Levi for all his help with this, and the last, article

Part 1 is here 


[1] See also photographs by Thérèse Bonney of the exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in 1931, in the collection of the Smithsonian Libraries; e.g. ‘French picture frames

[2] Plate 3 has been definitely identified with the Jean Le Blanc frame illustrated; another possibility is the identification of the inner frame in Plate 43 with the frame in which Degas’s Dancer onstage entered the Metropolitan Museum, New York; see the Notes for the online entry 

[3] Patrick Mauriès, Serge Roche, Paris, 2006, to accompany the exhibition of Roche’s work at the Galerie Chastel Maréchal in 2006, p.42

[4] See Frank  Sommer, ‘Poussin’s Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite: a re-identification’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 24, no ¾, July-December 1961, p. 327, note 17, quoting Anthony Blunt

[5] See ‘How Pre-Raphaelite frames influenced Degas and the Impressionists’ 

[6] See Neil Jeffares, ‘Framing the Louvre’s pastels’ 

[7]  Ibid.

[8] See Bruno Pons, ‘18th century French frames and their ornamentation’ 

[9] See Neil Jeffares, op. cit.