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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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Moldura de mesa em madeira e com montagens em prata 833‰, séc. XIX/XX
Jun 24, 7:00 PM WEST
Moldura de mesa em madeira e com montagens em prata 833‰, séc. XIX/XX
by Palácio do Correio Velho
Est: €40- €80
€14011 Bids
A vintage Murano glass twisted photo frame, Italian, circa 1960s
Jun 24, 10:00 AM AEST
A vintage Murano glass twisted photo frame, Italian, circa 1960s
by Gibson's
Est: AUD200- AUD300
AUD4609 Bids
Ralph Lauren Silver & Leather Photo Frames 2pc LOT
Jun 26, 12:00 PM EDT
Ralph Lauren Silver & Leather Photo Frames 2pc LOT
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$1505 Bids
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UNUSUAL TRAMP WARE PHOTO FRAME WITH REPRODUCTION PHOTO
Jun 27, 9:00 AM AEST
UNUSUAL TRAMP WARE PHOTO FRAME WITH REPRODUCTION PHOTO
by Albion Antique Auction Centre
Est: AUD10- AUD40
AUD254 Bids
Jay Strongwater Designer Picture Frames 3pc. LOT
Jun 26, 12:00 PM EDT
Jay Strongwater Designer Picture Frames 3pc. LOT
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$2753 Bids
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Vintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Double Picture Frame
Jun 26, 6:00 PM EDT
Vintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Double Picture Frame
by Market Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$1003 Bids
A French gilt gesso picture frame. 40 x 43cm opening 15 x 20cm
Jul 02, 7:00 PM AEST
A French gilt gesso picture frame. 40 x 43cm opening 15 x 20cm
by Lawsons
Est: AUD100- AUD200
AUD1003 Bids
Jay Strongwater Embellished Enamel Picture Frames
Jun 26, 12:00 PM EDT
Jay Strongwater Embellished Enamel Picture Frames
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$502 Bids
Two American Sterling Silver Picture Frames 20th Century
Jun 26, 10:00 AM EDT
Two American Sterling Silver Picture Frames 20th Century
by DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $500- $700
$2501 Bid
Barovier & Toso Style Glass Picture Frame
Jun 23, 12:00 PM EDT
Barovier & Toso Style Glass Picture Frame
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $300- $500
$1001 Bid
THREE DECORATIVE BUCCELLATI SILVER PHOTO FRAMES
Jun 25, 9:30 AM CEST
THREE DECORATIVE BUCCELLATI SILVER PHOTO FRAMES
by Nagel Auction
Est: €1,200- €1,800
€1,0001 Bid
A fine gold photo frame
Jun 25, 9:30 AM CEST
A fine gold photo frame
by Nagel Auction
Est: €1,200- €1,800
€1,0001 Bid
Three gold and gemstone photo frames
Jun 25, 9:30 AM CEST
Three gold and gemstone photo frames
by Nagel Auction
Est: €1,500- €2,500
€1,2001 Bid
Three tramp art frames
Jun 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Three tramp art frames
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $60- $90
$301 Bid
Four painted frames
Jun 27, 9:00 AM EDT
Four painted frames
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
Courtly ceremonial frame, Louis XV
Jul 02, 5:00 PM CEST
Courtly ceremonial frame, Louis XV
by Tiberius Auctions
Est: €4,000- €8,000
€2,0001 Bid
A gold and gemstone photo frame
Jun 25, 9:30 AM CEST
A gold and gemstone photo frame
by Nagel Auction
Est: €350- €450
€3001 Bid
A gold and gemstone photo frame
Jun 25, 9:30 AM CEST
A gold and gemstone photo frame
by Nagel Auction
Est: €1,200- €1,800
€1,0001 Bid
Two Matching Frames and Faux Flowers in Shadow Box Frame
Jun 23, 6:00 PM EDT
Two Matching Frames and Faux Flowers in Shadow Box Frame
by Caswell Prewitt Realty, INC
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
Giltwood Frame
Jun 29, 9:00 AM EDT
Giltwood Frame
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$51 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Picture Frames


Old Kinderhook Auction Company

Old Kinderhook Auction Company

Auktionshaus Schwab

Auktionshaus Schwab

Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction

DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers

DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers