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Picture Frames

Picture frames have been an important feature of art, especially paintings, since antiquity. Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman tableaus often included trompe l’oeil frames, which were painted with illusionist effects intended to trick the eye. Frames were also central to early Christian art and used to separate religious scenes depicted in icons and altarpieces from the everyday world.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, European art collectors became fascinated with portraiture, commissioning paintings of themselves, their children, and their extended families. The task of painting a portrait and outfitting it with an aesthetically-pleasing frame was a significant part of the artistic process, involving input from multiple people. The British painter George Romney, for example, worked closely with the London framer William Saunders to fashion frames that complemented and enhanced his paintings.

The invention of photography in 1839 was a significant moment for the history of framing. People began photographing special occasions and everyday experiences and displaying these captured moments in their homes and workspaces. Picture frames not only add decoration and a sense of style, but also provide much-needed protection for displayed photographs. Frames remain crucial to the presentation of paintings, photographs, and works on paper today.


Quick Facts

  • In 18th-century France, frame making was a highly specialized task that required framers to become both master craftsmen and master sculptors
  • Picasso and Matisse often used Renaissance frames to encase their paintings and works on paper, further enhancing their monetary value
  • The most traditional material used to construct picture frames is wood, although silver, bronze, aluminum, and plastics are also frequently used

Recommended Items at Auction

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Christian Dior Malachite Picture Frame and Three Covered Boxes, Frame: 2-3/4 x 4 in
Oct 04, 10:00 AM EDT
Christian Dior Malachite Picture Frame and Three Covered Boxes, Frame: 2-3/4 x 4 in
by Weschler's
Est: $100- $200
$1256 Bids
Arts & Crafts Gilt Frame
Oct 04, 12:00 PM EDT
Arts & Crafts Gilt Frame
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $100- $200
$2254 Bids
Lot of Small Early 20th C. Decorative Frames
Oct 04, 12:00 PM EDT
Lot of Small Early 20th C. Decorative Frames
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $50- $100
$604 Bids
Eli Wilner Custom Made Gilt Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
Eli Wilner Custom Made Gilt Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $200- $300
$1003 Bids
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A pair of Black Forest stained lindenwood Gothic arch frames, late 19th century
Oct 09, 10:00 AM PDT
A pair of Black Forest stained lindenwood Gothic arch frames, late 19th century
by Andrew Jones Auctions
Est: $600- $800
$3502 Bids
Italian, 18th Century Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
Italian, 18th Century Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $400- $800
$2502 Bids
Group with Wooden Picture Frames
Oct 04, 10:00 AM EDT
Group with Wooden Picture Frames
by Weschler's
Est: $50- $100
$402 Bids
American Hudson River School Frame
Oct 04, 12:00 PM EDT
American Hudson River School Frame
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $50- $100
$252 Bids
American Hudson River School Gilt Frame
Oct 04, 12:00 PM EDT
American Hudson River School Gilt Frame
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $50- $100
$252 Bids
Arts & Crafts Gilt Cassetta Frame
Oct 04, 12:00 PM EDT
Arts & Crafts Gilt Cassetta Frame
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $200- $300
$1002 Bids
JAY STRONGWATER Enameled Picture Frame In Box
Oct 19, 10:00 AM EDT
JAY STRONGWATER Enameled Picture Frame In Box
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $40- $200
$11 Bid
Group of Thirteen Silver Picture Frames
Oct 06, 11:00 AM EDT
Group of Thirteen Silver Picture Frames
by Stair
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
Antique European School Ebonized Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique European School Ebonized Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $250- $500
$1251 Bid
1860's American School Fluted Cove Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
1860's American School Fluted Cove Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $200- $300
$1001 Bid
Early Antique Carved Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
Early Antique Carved Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $350- $700
$1751 Bid
Louis XV Replica Carved Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
Louis XV Replica Carved Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
19th C. American School Gilt Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
19th C. American School Gilt Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$5001 Bid
1870's American School Gilt Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
1870's American School Gilt Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$7501 Bid
Antique American School Barbizon Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique American School Barbizon Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $500- $1,000
$2501 Bid
Antique European School Frame, Picasso Label
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique European School Frame, Picasso Label
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $400- $800
$2001 Bid
Exceptional English 19th C. Ebonized Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
Exceptional English 19th C. Ebonized Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$2501 Bid
19th C. French Fluted Cove Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
19th C. French Fluted Cove Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $400- $600
$2001 Bid
American 20th century Gilt Wood Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
American 20th century Gilt Wood Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
American, 1870's Gilt Wood Frame
Oct 06, 5:00 PM EDT
American, 1870's Gilt Wood Frame
by Helmuth Stone
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Picture Frames


Helmuth Stone

Helmuth Stone

Old Kinderhook Auction Company

Old Kinderhook Auction Company

Akiba Antiques

Akiba Antiques

Lion and Unicorn

Lion and Unicorn