Dating picture frames

02-Dec-2019 13:40

Though they might seem like afterthoughts, picture frames can be works of art unto themselves.

In fact, the earliest frames were often integral parts of a piece.

One example is a 17th Century portrait I found at a country auction. The drapery over the right breast didn’t match the dress. The fully exposed breast indicated that the woman was as close to the Monarchy as could be: specifically, to Charles II.

When I first saw it, I just thought the subject was a strikingly beautiful woman in a low-cut dress, her left breast half-exposed. A revealed breast, as Nell Gwynn proved in other portraits, was unwritten code for a Royal mistress.

It’s actually very difficult to fake age in paintings.

Later generations may not have liked a double chin, a very large nose or naked private parts.

There could be anything written there and you’ll never know unless you have a look.

For example, I sold a portrait of Charles II to the Queen after I found some ancient writing scribbled on the back of it.

The late Labour MP Tony Banks bought a portrait of 18th Century statesman Henry Fox at auction at a knock-down price. Airborne, it permeates oil paint, over time turning it more and more yellow.

One effect is to make a sitter in a portrait look older and less attractive.

Later generations may not have liked a double chin, a very large nose or naked private parts.There could be anything written there and you’ll never know unless you have a look.For example, I sold a portrait of Charles II to the Queen after I found some ancient writing scribbled on the back of it.The late Labour MP Tony Banks bought a portrait of 18th Century statesman Henry Fox at auction at a knock-down price. Airborne, it permeates oil paint, over time turning it more and more yellow.One effect is to make a sitter in a portrait look older and less attractive.This was the original version of the picture of Nell.