In the early years of history, framing has been used as a way to decorate art pieces such as portraits and other art works, the use of framing has never been considered by artists to be used as early as 2nd century A.D., however this technique was already been adopted to embellish their paintings.
The Earliest Discovery of Picture Framing
The earliest picture frames were discovered around the times of the ancient Egyptians and the Greeks to divide scenes and ornamentation. The majority of fayum mummy portraits found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 2nd Century A.D. were painted on wood, and the “frames” were carved into the same pieces of the wood.
The Development of Framing
“A picture without a frame is like a soul without a body”, as Vincent van Gogh said, framing has been a way to present artworks for thousands of years. Frames also change with historic events. The early “framed panel paintings were made from one piece. The area to be painted was then gessoed and gilded. Painting the image on the flat panel was the last thing to be done”, according to a historical series published in Picture Frame Magazine (“Framed Art”).
Nevertheless, this method was too costly. In order to reduce the high cost, attaching mitred moulding strips to a flat wooden panel was a more cost-effective method that was developed eventually. The hand-carved, wooden frames we recognize today appeared around the 12th and 13th centuries, and they were mostly used to decorate churches and separate the different paintings and sections within the sanctuary. Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, the European frames were mostly “church-commissioned and largely unmovable as they were altarpieces and a large part of the church’s architecture”. The advent of portable frames came during the Renaissance of the 14th-15th centuries Italy as the wealthy nobles brought these frame arts into their estate by “commissioning allegorical, devotional and portrait paintings”. The rise of photography in the mid 19th century began the era of fashion custom frames between the growing middle class. The industry of picture framing started to expand.