the art of producing pictures is thousands of years older than
that of making frames, yet when once the latter were introduced
the former gained considerably in appearance.
Indeed, when mural decoration had succeeded the rude sketches
upon the naked rocks and stones, and frescoes were in turn
replaced by works of a portable character on panel and canvas,
some kind of frame became absolutely necessary to form a border
to the composition and to isolate it from others.
The earlier frames were doubtless of a very simple character,
but were soon succeeded by handsomely carved work, often of
exquisite taste and finish, and indicating frequently, in the
case of a portrait, the favorite pursuits of the original. Such
is the carved frame around the portrait of Izaak Walton, in the
Hall of Brasenose College, with its rods and tackle, goodly
trout, and other details of the fisher's art and skill.
Artists of good repute engaged in this carved work, the frame
being prepared for the exercise of their skill by the carpenter
or frame maker, who, in that case, merely fitted the parts
This work was, of course, of a costly character, suited
only to the canvases of artists of acknowledged
celebrity employed by the rich; others were content with
plain wood frames of the simplest kind, and often very
badly painted to imitate foreign wood.
Gilt frames after a while superseded in a great degree
those elaborated by the carver, and composition
ornaments replaced the more costly ones cut from the
Of late years these gilt composition framed have been more
generally used than any others, especially a design known as
Alhambra - a rich moulding of bold character, with generally a
broad plain mat inside.
They are got up very cheaply, even when the best gilding is
used, and at a still cheaper rate when copper leaf, lacquered,
and is substituted for the real gold. Tet of these frames I have
said but little in the following pages, because an amateur would
not succeed in making them; but, at the same time, he might,
perhaps, be able to repair a frame of which a part of the
moulding or ornament bad been accidentally broken.
These pages are accordingly devoted to wooden frames requiring
neither many tools nor expensive materials, and include those in
which the fretsaw alone, or in combination with the carving
tool, comes into use. Oxford frames, which of late years have
been deservedly in high favor among amateur frame-makers, are
introduced, both of the original simple form, and more or less
Picture-frame making affords great scope for skill and taste,
and the lighter kinds of frame are within the capabilities of
the lady amateur, who may pass many a delightful hour in this