This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Next in importance to the choice of pictures is the framing of them," once remarked a great French critic. Gautier's observation, provoked by some exhibitions of exemplary bad taste in the framing of certain canvases in the Salon, has not lost its force with time. Our own exhibitions show us constantly how incorrect or defective judgment may mar the beauty of an excellent work, and illustrate, less frequently perhaps, but quite as strikinglv, how well - considered framing may enhance the appearance of even an indifferent work of art. It is safe to assume from the start that no picture gains in artistic value from its frame. Indeed, a soundly painted picture looks to the connoisseur most satisfactory in the simplicity of the easel. But pictures are not only works of art but of decoration, and as such requite sufficient setting to render them individual in their places on the wall. The effect of a room hung with untrained pictures would be a mere jumble of colour, harmonious enough in its way, but
Modelling in the Round. Study by Walter Crane.
(See pages 84, 85.) not at all decorative. Anyone who has visited an artist's studio and seen his studies tacked around it, can form an idea of what his rooms would look like rilled with unframed pictures. The frame is to the picture as a decoration what the artist's final touches are to it as a work of tut. It gives it the finish which renders it most completely agreeable to the eve.
It is Stating a self-evident fact to say that the frame should fit the picture. It should be considered with judicious care in its relation to the character of the work it environs. If you have a neat but unfinished little sketch, and put it in a gorgeous frame, the finish of your frame shows up the deficiencies of the picture. If you put around a completelv finished picture a mere plain strip of gilded wood, the effect is equally incongruous. But put the plain wood around the sketch, and the harmony of the arrangement will be complete; put the rich frame around the picture, and the result will be equally satisfactory.
Of course there is a reason for this: the picture should always be of more importance than the frame. In looking at it you should see it first, and only note the frame as an accessory fact. But if the frame is not in keeping with the picture you see it first. The rich frame kills the slight sketch and first attracts your eye. The plain frame is so per-lectlv out of keeping with the elaborate picture, that its ugliness strikes you before the beauty of the picture catches your attention. One point in regard to framing being borne in mind will prove an excellent preservative against any serious errors of taste. It is, that yon want your picture to be seen, not the frame. If the frame properly supplements the picture it is enough. All the money you may lavish on the most gorgeous patterns and finishes will bring you nothing but the encomium, "What a splendid frame!" and the rule is, the more splendid the frame, the less significant the picture it encloses. A. T.