The Artist and the Framemaker: W. Elmer Schofield and H.W. Taylor

James Church, the great-grandson of Walter Elmer Schofield, discusses the frames made between 1905 and 1911 for this American Impressionist by the London framemaker, H.W. Taylor, in the light of their correspondence.

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Harry Walter Taylor (1864‐1934) set up his frame‐making business, H.W. Taylor & Co., in 1896, located at ‘The Old Golden Palette’ in Bayswater by 1900. W. Elmer Schofield (1865-1944), an American artist, was a patron in the early years of the company and appears first to have turned to Taylor for framing his canvases in 1905.

Schofield was a highly regarded landscape painter, who first came to prominence through depicting his native state of Pennsylvania under snow in the late 1890s; his fame in depicting the winter landscape of Pennsylvania and New England remained, despite the variety of his subsequent work. The award of a Silver Medal from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the Gold Medal of the First Class from the Carnegie Institute in 1904 established his reputation as a significant American artist of the early 20th century. His work is held by many of the major art museums of the United States, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as by the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Schofield’s marriage to Muriel Redmayne in 1896 (she came from Southport in Lancashire), and his discovery of Cornwall in 1903 ensured that he spent extended periods of time in Great Britain. His collaboration with Taylor lasted until about 1911, when Schofield began to use the hand‐carved frames of the Newcomb‐Macklin Co. of Chicago and New York[1]. The chance survival of early correspondence both from Taylor, detailing potential designs and handwritten on his company letterhead, and Schofield, in the form of a draft response to Taylor’s proposals, offer an unusually complete glimpse in to the relationship between frame maker and artist. This correspondence is transcribed in full below together with the information currently available from those of Schofield’s paintings which retain Taylor’s frames, and from other archival sources.

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H.W. Taylor wrote to Schofield with his proposals on 1st August 1905 on his company letterhead, with sketches of a number of patterns labelled ‘A’ to ‘G’, which had been sent to Schofield for comment. For some, he includes a commentary or additional options on the designs:

Taylor address

W.S. Schofield Esq

H.W. Taylor & Co.                                                             Aug 1 1905

Frame Designers and Workers.

Fashioners of High=Class Gold=Laid Carved and Modelled Picture Frames. Old Style and New, made in Hard and Soft Woods, Oak, Walnut, etc., or in hand=moulded Compressed Compo. A large selection of their original registered Designs on view ‐ suitable for Oil=Paintings, Water=Colours, Engravings, Etchings etc., which are of their own Special Design and manufacture ‐‐‐‐‐ Regilding, Print=Straining, and Mount Cutting. Ornate French Frames with deeply undercut Ornament —– Estimates given at Cash prices.

Speciality ‐ Picture Cleaning Experts

Agents for the Fine Art Insurance Company

Conveyancing of Pictures and Works of Art to Home and Foreign Exhibitions. Re=Hanging. Exact Reproduction of Old Frames. In carved wood or hand=moulded compressed compo.


Dear Sir –

I have sent off the patterns.

A. [sketch] 7 ½ I have this in 3 smaller sizes.

B. [sketch] 7 ¼   Contour can be altered as all ornament dries to shape.

C. [sketch] 6″ Is arranged to have corners & centre similar to the old swepts, though the sides can be filled in with ornament more.

D. [sketch] 9″ Can be made narrower.

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E. [sketch] 5 ¼ This is a rough sketch model I made for working to a larger size with the main ornament about the size of D.  In its larger form (not quite finished) it is bolder & simpler line though carrying out same idea.

F. [sketch] 8 ¾   this looks very well it is though different in style to foregoing.

F. [sketch] 6″ Ditto this.

G [sketch].x.  Similar to the first ones. The outside member .x. can be made panelled [sketch] part plain & part leaf work.

I am Yours faithfully,

H.W. Taylor

Schofield’s reply was as follows:

‘The pattern marked E made up into a 7 in frame with a simpler form and the ornament handled a little more – not so sharply defined – a little simpler and the corner and centre pieces not too bold – the pattern marked A if you could handle this ornament so that it was not quite such high relief, that is I mean pressed down a little more and with some appropriate centre + corner design.

[marked ‘OVER’]

‐ As to the colour of the frames – I want them in bronze and very low in tone – give them quite an old look] I want the design in both frames to be “melted” into the background so that it will lack sharpness everywhere and with the handling you know so well how to do.

I trust you understand perfectly what I desire – if not please write and I will try to make my meaning plainer – Do not make main ornament in E the size of D as you suggest but a bit smaller as I do not wish it too bold.

P.S. Make the frames especially strong at the corners as I may have glass –


As to colour of frames – I want them bronze & very low in tone and not yellow but rather greenish – make them look old’. [2]

This text provides clear evidence of the importance Schofield placed upon his frames in their design. The lack of clearly defined cartouches, the ‘melted’ detailing and the ‘bronze and very low in tone’ colouring would have lessened any tendency to visual dominance in the frame, whilst at the same time complementing the increasingly vigorous brushwork which Schofield adopted in this period. It also appears that he wished to have certain positive qualities to complement his work, and that he was looking back to historic frame designs. ‘As to the colour of frames… make them look old.’ This would have been in contrast to prevailing contemporary taste for sharper ornamentation, since he specifically asks for ‘melted’ ornament that ‘will lack sharpness everywhere and with the handling you know so well how to do.’



W. Elmer Schofield, The landing stage, Boulogne, 1908‐09, Cincinnati Art Museum

There are three known paintings by Schofield which retain their original frames by H. W. Taylor. Two of these are major exhibition canvases, although only one still has a label on the reverse. This frame is the Auricular pattern belonging to The landing stage, Boulogne (1908‐09), a large and extensively exhibited industrial scene of shipping at the northern French port, looking across to the Gare de Maritime from the Quai Gambetta. Although Schofield was based in Cornwall between 1903 and 1907, before moving to Yorkshire and then Bedford in 1911, he regularly visited the Continent to work. The label on the upper centre block is damaged and stained but can still be partially deciphered:

‘The Old Golden Palette’

H.W. TAYLOR & Co.,

61, Queen’s Road, Bayswater, London, W.


[remainder illegible]

The frame is in a ‘Sunderland’ revival design, with broad and gestural Auricular scrolls arranged symmetrically around central cartouches. The ornament is damaged, the upper and lower cartouches (probably mascarons) being torn away, revealing the construction of thick, moulded composition laid over a robust timber framework. An inlay has been fitted inside the sight edge, perhaps to accommodate glazing. In November 1909, it is possible this frame was one of two sent to Schofield in Paris, where he was working with his friend, the marine painter Paul Dougherty:

‘I shall work a little on my canvases in Dougherty’s studio and also see them in frames. I have had Taylor send my two new ones over so that will be a great advantage.’ [3]

Although probably begun or even completed during Schofield’s visit to Boulogne the previous year, The landing stage, Boulogne was perhaps reworked over the course of 1909; what appears to be a date of ‘09’ appears next to the artist’s signature in early reproductions, but this is no longer discernible. The landing stage, Boulogne is first recorded as being exhibited at the 105th Annual Exhibition of American Painters, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which ran from 23 January to 20 March 1910, suggesting that this Taylor frame is possibly one of those shipped to Paris.

A Schofield Winter in Picardy 1907 Philadelphia Mus of Art 1 sm

W. Elmer Schofield, Winter in Picardy, 1907, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Despite its being likely that a number of frames from Taylor’s workshop graced Schofield’s exhibition pieces, few remain with the canvases for which they were made. None are known from major canvases from 1905 or 1906, with the earliest known Taylor frame (attributable on stylistic grounds) being that used for Winter in Picardy (1907, Philadelphia Museum of Art). This is one of Schofield’s most important paintings from before the Great War, and was acquired by the noted Philadelphia collector, Dr George Woodward, while on display at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1908 [4]. It wasn’t, initially at least, housed in a Taylor frame. In a photographic portrait of Schofield in his St Ives studio, taken by his friend W.H. Lanyon in 1907, Winter in Picardy is visible to the left in the background, framed in a simple architrave profile.

Lanyon Photo of Schofield in St Ives studio 1907 hi res cropped

W.H. Lanyon , W. Elmer Schofield in his Studio, St Ives, 1907. Courtesy of the Schofield Family

These simpler, and therefore less expensive, frames were perhaps used by Schofield in some numbers, even for major exhibition canvases. Old mills on the Somme (Indianapolis Museum of Art) and Old covered bridge (Rockford Art Museum), acquired respectively in 1909 and 1913, are also housed in plain frames without ornament and may be the artist’s own selection.

Schofield in his studio Frame detail

Interestingly, the larger canvas on the right‐hand in Lanyon’s photograph is in a frame of identical design to the one finally made for Winter in Picardy. As the two pictures do not appear identically sized, it is unlikely the frame was removed from the second canvas and resized, but this does support the claim put forward here of this being the artist’s original Taylor frame. Schofield’s correspondence suggests that Winter in Picardy was only placed in the Taylor frame in the United States in preparation for its display at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, with Schofield writing to his wife,

‘…my pictures for the Academy are framed and certainly look fairly good ‐ they are better than last year’s.’ [5]

Like that on The landing stage: Boulogne, this frame is based on historic patterns; it combines a Baroque silhouette with small Auricular motifs, and demonstrates Schofield’s preference voiced to Taylor to have ‘the corner and centre pieces not too bold’. It is more restrained than the frame made for Schofield a mere two years later for the later work.

Before this period Schofield appears to have used American‐made frames, often with elaborate wreathed edges, and the stylistic change Taylor’s frames offered may have been the deciding factor in using them. However, the probable increase in shipping fees incurred by manufacturing frames in London for canvases bound for the United States suggests that this decision was reached for more than purely stylistic reasons. The competitive rivalry which developed at this time between Schofield and a friend – fellow landscape painter Edward W. Redfield, from the Pennsylvania Academy – might conceivably have made the London‐based workshop preferable over those in Philadelphia, due to the increased difficulty in duplicating the designs. Schofield’s wife Muriel remarked to her husband:

‘What a shame Mr. Redfield should copy your last frames & pictures too to a great extent – What a mean creature – He seems to stop at nothing and intends to run you very close – but I am not afraid of that… By the way, if I should be asked for any of your work, is there nothing you would show at an Exhibition? There may be applications from some of the other cities and you have some lovely things in your studio – could you not write to Taylor and give him an idea for a frame for one of them? I am so glad that your other frames look well and think you are right in not letting people see your work until it is hung – Mr. Redfield or other unscrupulous people might have time to copy.’ [6]

The rivalry between Redfield and Schofield has been remarked upon elsewhere, although this letter demonstrates that frames as well as pictures were a source of competition between the two artists; after all, it was the only element of presentation at a major exhibition which the artist controlled. If Schofield’s frames were being copied by his rival artists in the United States, it would give a reason for his procuring his frames abroad and incurring the additional shipping costs. The quotation above also reveals that Muriel was well‐aware of the administration of Schofield’s exhibition submissions and of his working relationship with Taylor. From at least late 1905, Muriel was seemingly familiar with Taylor’s work for her husband:

‘If you want me to go to Taylors about anything just let me know dear & I shall be delighted to do so. I am glad you have ordered another frame and I shall be glad to see this new canvas you have painted.’ [7]

This letter suggests that, by 1906, she also administered to some extent the manufacture and delivery of frames in her husband’s absence overseas. The extent of her capacity in this regard is suggested by the third Schofield painting with a Taylor frame, a small oil-on-canvas board pochade study, Montreuil-sur-Mer, the market. This sketch was made when Schofield visited Montreuil in 1906 in the company of a number of artist friends, including R. Hayley Lever, Frank Brangwyn and Alfred East. It retains an original H.W. Taylor gilt composition frame with a complete label surviving on the reverse:

“The Old Golden Palette”

H.H. TAYLOR & Co.,

Picture Framer Fashioners

61, Queen’s Road, Bayswater, London, W.

A Schofield The market Montreuil sur Mer 1906 priv coll sm

W. Elmer Schofield, Montreuil-sur-Mer, the market, 1906, Private Collection

The style of the frame enclosing this oil study does not follow antique models, in contrast to the other two examples, but is strongly influenced by modern Art Nouveau motifs. Judging by the surviving records, it does not appear at all likely that Schofield exhibited his smallest studies. As Muriel appears to have visited H.W. Taylor & Co. to give them instructions, it is a plausible suggestion that Montreuil-sur-Mer, the market came to be framed by Taylor as a personal order, either for Schofield himself or on Muriel’s own initiative, to enable it to be hung in the artist’s home. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that this painting remained in the collection of the artist’s family until 2006 [8]. The stylistic difference that this frame represents does suggest that Schofield’s choices varied according to the destination of the painting, and that Taylor produced different designs for Schofield’s personal, rather than exhibition, use. We must also be careful in assuming that all of Taylor’s work for Schofield was under the artist’s absolute direction, since an equally plausible explanation is that Muriel herself may have chosen this frame; an explanation that is, perhaps, the more interesting in its implications.

It seems unlikely that Taylor would have made all the frames that Schofield required, and it appears that the artist reverted to using American-made frames from 1911. The reason could have been to save on the transportation costs of shipping heavy compo frames, sending home only the much lighter canvases on their stretchers; it might also have been because of the more up-to-date designs in the American Arts & Crafts manner, which were being produced by the Newcomb-Macklin firm. However, a further factor is suggested by a label on the reverse of The landing stage, Boulogne – the fragility of the composition itself:

Atkinson Art Gallery



Indeed in its current state this frame has lost both upper and lower centre cartouches, the compo being completely broken away to reveal the timber carcase below. These frames were fundamentally fragile, as well as exceptionally heavy.


James Church has a BSc and MArch in architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture,  UCL, and an MA in the History of Art from Birkbeck College (University of London). He lives in London and is currently working in an architects’ office; he also draws and writes.  W. Elmer Schofield is his great-grandfather, and he is currently researching Schofield’s period in St. Ives from 1903-07.


Post-script: Schofield

A Schofield The coast of Cornwall 1914in Newcomb Macklin frame Dryads Green Gallery sm

W.E. Schofield, The coast of Cornwall, 1914, in Newcomb-Macklin frame, Dryads Green Gallery

The coast of Cornwall in its Newcomb-Macklin frame gives a flavour of Schofield’s work after his association with Taylor apparently ceased in 1911. Frames from this Chicago-New York firm (founded in 1871), highly original and a combination of Arts-and-Crafts and Art Nouveau in style, have the same melting qualities to the carved ornament as Schofield was seeking in his correspondence with Taylor, above.

A Schofield The lower falls University of Rochester Museum image 1

W. Elmer Schofield (1867 – 1944), Lower Falls, 1915, o/c, Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester: Bequest of Mrs. Ernest R. Willard, 40.42

Another example of his work in the same Newcomb-Macklin pattern, The lower falls of 1915, shows clearly that he also preferred a certain type of profile. This is notably similar to Taylor’s frames in the arrangement of fluidly-ornamented top edge, cavetto, small running motif and plain sight. Equally, the finish of each frame was chosen individually in all cases to harmonize with the colouring of the picture.

A Schofield The lower falls & The landing stage Details

Corner details from the Newcomb-Macklin frame of The lower falls, top, and the Taylor frame on The coast of Cornwall, bottom.

Post-script: Taylor

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H.W. Taylor’s address, Queen’s Road in Bayswater, London, shown on an 1878 Stanford map of London, with thanks to MapCo.Net

The Directory of British Framemakers by Jacob Simon  contains a summary of Taylor’s career, addresses and advertisements, together with a summary of his framing work. He was evidently used to producing custom-made designs for artists; a recent sale at Mallams of Oxford included this example of his work:

Pre Raphaelite School Kneeling angel

Pre-Raphaelite School, Kneeling angel weeping, watercolour, in gilt plaster frame with a partial paper label on reverse reading ‘The Old Golden Palette, H. W. Taylor & Co.’ 29cm x 20.5cm Mallams, Oxford, Dec. 2014, Lot 376

H W Taylor label on backboard of W L Wyllie sm

H.W. Taylor, label on the reverse of a frame. Photo courtesy of Richard Christie


[1] Newcomb-Macklin Co. to Schofield, 27th November 1911, Reel 5043, W. Elmer Schofield Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

[2] Schofield to H. W. Taylor, undated draft (August 1905?), Reel 5043, W. Elmer Schofield Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

[3] Schofield to Muriel Schofield, 20th November 1909, Reel 5043, W. Elmer Schofield Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

[4] Winter in Picardy (1907), o/c, 38 ½ x 48 ins, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Dr & Mrs George Woodward. Purchased from the 103rd Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 4 February-24 March 1908, where it had first been exhibited. The Woodwards already owned one Schofield, Zennor Cove, Coast of Cornwall, purchased in 1904 from the Pennsylvania Academy Annual Exhibition of that year.

[5] Schofield to Muriel Schofield, 31st December 1907, Schofield Family Archive.

[6] Muriel Schofield to Schofield, 17th October 1905, Reel 5043, W. Elmer Schofield Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

[7] Muriel Schofield to Schofield, 6th March 1906, Letter No.246, Schofield Family Archives.

[8] Montreuil-sur-Mer, the market, 7 3/8 x 9 3/8 ins, oil on canvas board, Fine American and European Paintings, 3 December 2006, Freemans Auctioneers, Philadelphia, PA, lot 144E.

[9] Label verso, upper centre block of The landing stage, Boulogne, Cincinnati Art Museum.