Daily Archives: January 3, 2023

When the Frame is in the Picture

Starting 2023 off with some color and creativity; I need some brightness. There is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I which I have long admired: it’s from relatively early in her reign, and the artist is anonymous. It’s a serious portrait of a young woman of faith: holding a book (for prayer, presumably) and with a poetic inscription about transubstantiation below: it’s certainly not an official portrait as she would never be so open about her personal religious beliefs in her quest to be Queen of the English people rather than just Queen of the English Protestants. The other notable aspect of the portrait is the frame: there really isn’t one, it’s a faux gilt “frame” which is painted on the same board as the portrait. Later on, much later on, this will become a more common trompel’œil technique, but I think it was pretty novel in 1565!

@Christie’s Images Ltd. The caption reads: Twas God the Word that spake it: And what that Word did make it, That I believe and take it.

When I was looking for a nice image to post for Elizabeth’s birthday this past fall, I came across one of the “Runneth Over” adaptations by DVM/Maloos: and that of another Renaissance Woman! More Rainbow portrait and Mona Lisa, you can’t beat that.

Then I was off and running, discovering lots of cool images. I like to use a relatively narrow focus to discover things, but as I moved forward in time I realized that “frame as part of the picture” is not a discreet search term for modern art. There are indeed quite a few such playful paintings, so I’m just including a few of my discoveries below: I really like the work of Jorge Alberto, whose encased queen card is just one of his faux frame paintings, and I also like this shadowy lemon. As their titles suggest, Sarah Gilman’s Trompe l’oeil after Gijsbrechts paintings reproduce the framed “memo-board” paintings of seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish artists rather deliberately.

As the Runneth Over works demonstrate, not all “integrated frame” paintings need to be illusory: my last featured artist is Carolyn Misterek, whose “Everyday Occurences” paintings feature an assemblage of botanicals, flat color, and frames. They seem unassuming yet striking at first glance, but the frame adds something besides dimension: formality, finish, fancifulness?

Three “Everyday Occurences” paintings by Carolyn Misterek.


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