Despite a history that spans centuries and some truly epic works, picture frames and their makers rarely receive the same amount of accolades as the pictures within them. Though they have, in their own way, influenced some of the designs and processes that have become commonplace over the years, the frame being seen by many as a secondary item has limited the recognition that frames and framers have received for their contributions. These are a few examples of noteworthy frames, framers and frame-related activities.
The Dubai Frame stands at 150 metres tall. The building was designed in the shape of a picture frame and through it’s middle is a stunning view of the Dubai skyline, including the record breaking Burj Khalifa. It was completed and opened to the public in January 2018 and received over a million visitors in its first year alone.
Unsurprisingly, the most expensive frame can be found around one of the most expensive paintings. A recently rediscovered work by Leonardo Da Vinci, Salvatore Mundi, was auctioned by Christie’s and achieved a record breaking price of $450.3 million in 2017. Part of that price was undoubtedly attributable to the frame chosen for it by the New York based restoration company Lowy, who opted for a 16th century Italian frame featuring gold stencilled details and a black finish. The frame alone was worth $50,000, making it the most expensive on record.
On 6th October 2010, Lara Khoury in Abu Dhabi was awarded the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of picture frames with an astounding 2214 frames. Ms. Khoury began her collection in 1992 and keeps the frames empty.
Most Frames Toppled in Domino Fashion.
On 14th January 2019, the Chengdu Lvenzeya Technology Co. Ltd in Hainan, China, arranged 3000 photo frames which they had collected from their staff and from agencies across China, into a domino rally, achieving themselves a Guinness World Record for the most photo frames toppled in a domino fashion.
Most Influential Framer
Charles Frederick Bielefeld the younger, born in 1803, patented a type of architectural papier-mache called fibrous slab which has been used in decorating several famous structures, including the British Museum’s Reading Room. Aside from this, he also championed the case of papier-mache decorated frames. Using pressed parts that were priced individually, his method made frames more accessible and more easily and made unique and individual frames much easier to make. After a turbulent career which saw him fall faster than he rose, he declared bankruptcy in 1861 after suffering a fire on his remises and died in 1864, leaving effects worth less than £100.
Picture framing might be considered something of a blackspot on the historical radar. That doesn’t mean the history isn’t there, it means there is still fun to be had in the discovery.