This is the second of a series of short articles on the reframing projects undertaken by the National Gallery, London, under the Head of Framing, Peter Schade. The articles were originally published in the National Gallery’s Review of the Year, from 2008-09 onwards, and are republished here by kind permission of the Gallery, and with added illustrations.
2: Review of the year April 2009 – March 2010: Framing, by Peter Schade
Reframing the portrait of Madame de Pompadour
NG 6440 François-Hubert Drouais (1727-75), Madame de Pompadour at her tambour frame, 1763–64, o/c, 217 x 156.8 cm., reframed
For many years the National Gallery has been seeking to reframe the portrait of Madame de Pompadour at her tambour frame by François- Hubert Drouais. French 18th century portraits typically include fashionable furniture within the composition, giving us a clue as to the style of the original frame. But the evidence provided by this portrait of Madame de Pompadour, an absolute leader of fashion, is contradictory. The sofa upon which she is seated, as well as the chair in the foreground and the ormolu mounts of the bookcase behind, are in the Rococo style associated with the reign of Louis XV, characterised by serpentine lines and ornaments of scrolls, shells and flowers.
NG 6440 Drouais, Mme de Pompadour, corner of previous fluted frame, and detail of worktable
The worktable on the right, however, features elements from ancient altars and temple architecture – a Greek wave-pattern frieze and goat’s head – and the angular lines of ‘le goût grec’. It is possible that the painting was originally framed in the same style as this piece of precocious NeoClassicism, which perhaps explains why it has been shown in the modern version of a fluted hollow frame. Although the pattern was very popular in the late 18th century (an example of the same manufacture can be seen in Canaletto’s The stonemason’s yard, NG 127), in this instance it appeared both mean and tight.
NG 6440 Drouais, Madame de Pompadour, details of current frame
It is more likely that Drouais’s portrait was initially displayed in a frame that was congruous with the Rococo furniture. We would have liked to second-guess the original choice, but we seized the opportunity to acquire a ‘pastel frame’ with especially fine carving and unusual size because its wide, calm section gives the picture greater presence and enhances the illusion of space. The original gilding, and the beautiful flowing ornament at the inner edge, carved and then sharpened up in the gesso echo the carved wood and chased bronze depicted in the painting itself.
The ‘pastel frame’ is so called because it was a type often favoured for portraits in pastel, although it was certainly also used for oil paintings. It is a quiet design when contrasted with the ‘centre and corner’ patterns with swept or serpentine outlines and rich, often pierced, ornament which were typical of the mid-18th century. There is a double curve here but it is confined to the ogee (S-shaped) profile.
NG 4077 Chardin (1699-1779), The young schoolmistress, c.1737, o/c, 61.6 x 66.7 cm., in current Louis XV ogee ‘pastel frame’
Fine examples of the ‘pastel frame’ have already been found for Chardin’s The young schoolmistress (NG 4077) and The house of cards (NG 4078), both acquired with the help of Alan and Jean Horan and illustrated in the Annual Review 2007–08.
NG 6428 Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743), Antoine Pâris, c.1724, o/c, 144.7 x 110.5 cm., in original Régence frame
The quality of the frames currently displayed on the northern side of Room 33 is exceptional. Works include Rigaud’s portrait of Antoine Pâris (NG 6428) in its exquisite original Régence frame, and fine NeoClassical frames, some of them original, around pictures by David, Peyron and Vigée Le Brun. The French 18th century frame can be studied here in detail as well as French 18th century painting.
NG 6422 Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743), A lady in a garden taking coffee with some children, c.1742, o/c, 88.9 x 97.8 cm., in Rococo frame (possibly original)
NG 1090 François Boucher (1703-70), Pan and Syrinx, 1759,o/c, 32.4 x 41.9 cm., in Transitional frame
NG 6495 Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), Portrait of Jacobus Blauw, 1795, o/c, 92 x 73 cm., in Louis XVI frame
Lancret, Boucher and David, corner details of frames
Thus, after admiring the detail on the ‘pastel frames’ we can turn to the treatment of the corner and inner edge of a full-blown Rococo frame (on the Lancret), compare that with one of a later date with less irregular ornament and a sharp leaf ornament at the inner edge (Boucher), before discovering that same ornament on a NeoClassical frame (David). Peter Schade
Paintings reframed in 2009–2010 with newly acquired antique frames
NG 1233 Bellini (c.1435-1516), The Blood of the Redeemer, c.1465, tempera/panel, 47.6 x 35.2 cm., in previous 20th century British reproduction Renaissance-style aedicular altarpiece frame, decorated with pressed applied compo ornament
NG 1233 Bellini, The Blood of the Redeemer, reframed in early 16th century Italian moulding frame, with flat frieze at top edge and quarter-round convex moulding; finished with water-gilding and polychrome faux marbre top edge; remains of original bolt or hinge, top right (also used to frame NG 736, below); with details
NG 736 Bonsignori (1455/60?-1519?), Portrait of an Elderly Man, 1487, tempera/panel, 41.9 x 29.8 cm., in previous late 19th–early 20th century Italian-made reproduction Renaissance-style pastiglia, polychrome and gilded cassetta with applied cornice and plinth
NG736 Bonsignori, Portrait of an Elderly Man, reframed in early 16th century Italian moulding frame, with flat frieze at top edge and quarter-round convex moulding; finished with water-gilding and polychrome faux marbre top edge (also used to frame NG 1233, above); with detail
NG170 Garofalo (c.1481-1559), The Holy Family with Saints John the Baptist, Elizabeth, Zacharias and (?)Francis, c. 1520-35, o/c, 60.3 x 47.8 cm., in 1980s reproduction 16th century-style cassetta made in the Gallery, with polychrome floral decoration possibly based on the antique frame of Botticelli, Venus & Mars
NG170 Garofalo, The Holy Family with Saints, reframed in 16th century Italian tabernacle frame, with turned baluster columns in the Venetian style, carved in the round, and flat shaped apron; with detail
NG 699 Lotto (c.1480-1556/57), The physician Giovanni Agostino della Torre and his son, Niccolò, c.1513-16, o/c, 85 x 68.2 cm., in previous 17th century Italian giltwood bolection frame with five orders of carved ornament; adapted with inlay and over-gilded
NG 699 Lotto, Giovanni Agostino della Torre and his Son, reframed in 16th century Florentine carved and polished walnut frame with concave (scotia) profile; tongue-&-dart knull on convex top edge: enriched fluted chain ornament in hollow; with detail
NG 6383 Monet (1840-1926), Irises, c.1914-17, o/c, 200.7 x 149.9 cm., in previous frame, constructed in 1967 from a single pierced and undercut Baroque leaf moulding from a larger 17th-18th century frame, with anachronistic modern compo corners
NG 6383 Monet, Irises, reframed in late 19th-early 20th century large-scale French giltwood ‘artist’s frame’: an entablature profile with wide sanded frieze; with detail
NG 1023 Moroni (1520/24-79), Portrait of a lady, perhaps Contessa Lucia Albani Avogadro (‘La dama in rosso’), c.1556-60, o/c, 155 x 106.8 cm., in previous 17th century British architrave frame with applied carved scrolling foliate ornament; the black ground sanded off; re-gilded; cut down and given a modern inlay
NG 1023 Moroni, Portrait of a lady, reframed in 16th century parcel-gilt and polished walnut cassetta, probably Florentine, with centred gadrooned sight edge; with detail
NG 6264 Velázquez (1599-1660), St John the Evangelist on the Island of Patmos, 1618-19, o/c, 135.5 x 102.2 cm., in previous frame: a wide gadrooned moulding, once the sight of a large gilt frame, converted to frame NG 6424 and copied for this painting
NG 6424 Velázquez, The Immaculate Conception, 1618-19, o/c, 135 x 101.6cm., in previous frame: a wide gadrooned moulding, once the sight of a large gilt frame, converted to frame this painting and copied for NG 6264
NG 6264 Velázquez, St John the Evangelist on the Island of Patmos, reframed in 16th century deep entablature profile frame in walnut; ebonized with gilt sight edge; a pair with frame for NG 6424; with detail
NG 6424 Velázquez, The Immaculate Conception, reframed in 16th century deep entablature profile frame in walnut; ebonized with gilt sight edge; a pair with frame for NG 6264; with detail
NG 1168 Willem van der Vliet (1583/84?-1642), Portrait of Suitbertus Purmerent, 1631, o/panel, 113.5 x 85.4 cm., in previous 20th century British reproduction Neapolitan-style bolection frame with Herrera-style ornament
NG 1168 Van Vliet, Portrait of Suitbertus Purmerent, reframed in 17th century Netherlandish ebony veneered scotia frame with gilt sight edge; with detail
Framed from Gallery stock
NG 1125.1 Mantegna (c.1431-1506), The Vestal Virgin Tuccia with a Sieve, c.1495-1506, tempera/panel, 72.5 x 23 cm.
NG 1125.2 Mantegna (1431-1506), A Woman Drinking, c.1495-1506, tempera/panel, 71.2 x 19.8 cm., each in previous stained and polished oak cabintemaker’s frame, made in 1974; stripped and repolished in 2005
NG 1125.1 Mantegna, The Vestal Virgin Tuccia
NG 1125.2 Mantegna, A Woman Drinking, each reframed in a 15th–16th century Italian style cassetta created from elements of antique mouldings, with one new replica side in each case; original water-gilding on three sides; with detail
NG 2555 Steen (1626-79), A man blowing smoke at a drunken woman; another man with a wine-pot, c.1660-65, o/panel, 30.2 x 24.8 cm., in previous antique French Louis XIV ogee giltwood frame, with strapwork, floral rinceaux and fanned lambrequin corners; cut down on all four sides and regilded
NG 2555 Steen A man blowing smoke at a drunken woman, reframed in mid-17th century Netherlandish cabinetmaker’s frame with ogee profile, veneered in ebony, with ripple mouldings at back and sight edge; with detail
NG 1476 Tintoretto (attrib.; c.1518-94), Jupiter & Semele, c.1545, o/panel, 22.7 x 65.4 cm., in previous late 19th century British version of revival pierced leaf frame, with inlay
NG 1476 Tintoretto, Jupiter & Semele, reframed in late 16th or 17th century Italian Baroque leaf frame, probably Bolognese, extended with some insertions and new centres; remnants of polychrome decoration; with detail
NG 296 Andrea del Verrocchio (& assistant; c.1435-88), The Virgin and Child with Two Angels, c.1476-78, tempera/panel, 96.5 x 70.5 cm., in previous 20th century reproduction cassetta with architrave profile and pastiglia decoration; given plain stepped ogee cornice in 1960s
NG 296 Verrocchio The Virgin and Child with Two Angels, reframed in early 16th century cassetta, described as ‘Veneta’ in M. Guggenheim, Le cornici Italiane, 1897, pl. 69; entablature profile with double frieze and architectural astragal-&-bobbin ornament; adapted to allow for damaged and missing ornament; with detail
NG 2491 Ghirlandaio (attrib.; 1483-1561), Portrait of Girolamo Benivieni, c.1510-20, o/panel, 70.5 x 56.2 cm., in previous late 19th century, probably British, reproduction carved giltwood cassetta, with centred imbricated compo bay leaf frieze
NG 2491 Ghirlandaio Portrait of Girolamo Benivieni, reframed in replica 16th century Tuscan-style walnut cassetta, with entablature profile; stained and polished; with detail
NG 3121 Jacometto (fl.c.1472-d. pre-1498), Portrait of a man, c.1475-98, tempera/panel, 26 x 19 cm., in previous mid-16th century Italian tabernacle frame in stained and polished wood, acquired after 1930 and extended to fit this portrait (possibly by insert at capitals?)
NG 3121 Jacometto, Portrait of a man, reframed in replica double-sided moulding frame (fillet and double ogee in front; entablature on reverse), stained and polished walnut; based on contemporary prototypes
NG 1286 Murillo (1617-82), A Young Man Drinking, 1655-60, o/c, 62.8 x 47.9 cm., in previous 18th century Spanish carved giltwood bolection frame, with projecting acanthus corners and spiral leaf torus at top edge; reduced and repaired
NG 1286 Murillo A Young Man Drinking, reframed in replica 17th century Spanish-style bolection frame, painted black and polished, with gilt sight edge; with detail
NG 691 Perugino (attrib.; fl.1469-d.1523), Christ Crowned with Thorns, c.1500-05,o/panel, 40.3 xd 32.4 cm., in previous 19th century British NeoClassical revival frame in carved giltwood and compo, with scotia profile and four orders of enrichment
NG 691 Perugino (attrib.), Christ Crowned with Thorns, reframed in replica 16th century Italian-style cassetta with entablature profile; gilded; with detail
NG 57 Rubens (1577-1640), Oil sketch for High Altarpiece, St Bavo Ghent, 1611-12, o/panel, centre: 106.7 x 82.1 cm.; wings each: 107.6 x 41.1 cm.; in previous 20th century British reproduction 18th century French Louis XV-style pastel giltwood frame, with ogee frieze and vertical bars repeating the sight moulding
NG 57 Rubens, Oil Sketch for High Altarpiece, St Bavo Ghent, reframed in replica Northern cabinetmaker’s altarpiece frame in trpitych form, with architrave profile; parcel-gilt, stained and polished; a plain version of the 16th century parcel-gilt frame made for NG6475, Von Aachen, The amazement of the gods, c.1590, based on an original in a private collection; with detail
Petrus Christus (fl. 1444-d.1475/76), Edward Grimston, 1446, on loan
Delaroche Cromwell and Charles I, exhibition loan
Supporters 2009–2010: J.A. Floyd Charitable Trust
Reframing of Lorenzo Lotto’s The Physician Giovanni Agostino della Torre and his Son, Niccolò supported by: Mr Juan Corbella, Mr Henry Elphick, Mr Jack Kirkland, and Mr Keir McGuinness