Wallace Collection Frames


After my previous visit to the Collection (and Blog entry), I asked about a display of empty frames in the lecture theatre and meeting room. I was put in touch with Jon Slight, Assistant Conservator of Frames and Furniture and he kindly and generously offered  not only to meet with me to look  at the frames and discuss them, but to also walk through some of the rooms in the Collection…. Jon previously worked for the Tate and possesses a  wealth of insight, knowledge, and experience with Frames and Framing. We talked about the many aspects of the conservation and alteration of the frames to suit the evolving attitudes and tastes in the presentation of the paintings in the Collection. Many of the empty frames in the lecture theatre and meeting room pictured above once surrounded the paintings in the collection. As I suspected and mentioned in my earlier blog, both Velasquez’s ‘Lady with the Fan’ and Hal’s ‘Laughing Cavalier’ we re-framed in the 20th century to return them to more appropriate settings for their period and country of origin.                      The 4th Marquess of Hertford framed many of the Collections works in 2nd Empire style fluted scotia frames in the 1850’s with a London based frame maker called WP Evans. Over 100 frames were commissioned and many of them are visible in the rooms today. Many of the Dutch masterpieces are in Louis XV style gilded frames, mainly framed in the 19th century. The Rembrants are also in gilded 19th century frames, not the  original ebony ‘ripple’ frame  more commonly  associated with the period. Jon also pointed out several frames that have had their glazing panels removed and inner frames re-instated…Many of the oil paintings had glass ‘doors’ in front of them as was the fashion and attempts at protecting them in the 19th century.  Much to my surprise, Jon  also pointed out that the very large frames surrounding  the Boucher  paintings in the stairwell and on the landing  are  (primarily) made of papier mache. It was very informative meeting and I’m grateful to the collection and especially to Jon for taking the time to allow me access  the display of the empty frames in the lecture theatre and the meeting room as they tell some of the story of the continuing evolution of the Collection’s efforts to display what are outstanding paintings. (All images used with permission, copyright the Wallace Collection) www.wallacecollection.org



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