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Thursday, 03 June 2021


Review of ‘Picture Frames - 15th - 21st century’.  An online course. Sophie Reynolds-Lerner

Review of ‘Picture Frames - 15th - 21st century’.  An online course. Sophie Reynolds-Lerner

Review of ‘Picture Frames - 15th - 21st century’.  An online course.

In a truly international grouping, as only zoom could provide in this day and age, 16 conservators and curators, from America, Europe and Australia gathered together each Thursday afternoon for 5 weeks to learn about picture frames.

This course, run by the university of Amsterdam, took the participants through a fascinating history of European frames, from medieval frames through to the modern under the expert guidance of Hubert Baija (senior frames conservator at the Rijksmuseum 1990-2020).

The subject matter - over 7 centuries of frames, is almost impossible to fit into ten measly hours.  However, through Huberts thorough planning and curation of the topic, this immense subject was split into 5 manageable strands, as outlined below: 

1) Pictoral space & medieval framing

2). Profile frames

3). Ornate frames

4). Louis & Empire frames

5)19th-21st century frames.

Each lecture was filled with carefully collected and skilfully selected images and photographs of frames which complemented the in depth information and gave context and examples to specific areas being discussed.   Methods of construction were clearly explained and results of analysis were also shared with the participants.  The clarity with which the information was presented made it accessible for everyone, both with and without prior understanding or knowledge of the topic.  The links to useful websites and references to pertinent books were also provided which I have found has helped me to read around the subject matter between the weekly classes and reinforce the learning.

The Q&A sections at the mid-point and end of each session allowed participants to clarify and ask for more in-depth information in a particular area of interest, as well as generating fascinating discussions with a world wide viewpoint. 

Frames have always been changed and adapted; either resized by cutting them down or through the insertion of liners, and of course frequently re-gilded.  This means that the initial clues that a frame provides can be mis-leading or confusing.  By attending this course, I feel that I have been given a wide range of visual analytic tools which will help my understanding of the frames that I work on as well as informing the conservation treatments that I carry out.

The wealth of knowledge contained within this one man is not only amazing but also fascinating and I feel honoured that I was able to spend this time learning under his direction thanks to the help of ICRI

Photo credit: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

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