The Painting and the Frame. Dialogues [1]

Tatiana Karpova

Magazine issue: 
#1 2015 (46)


We suggest to consider the frame from various perspectives, including: the connection between an icon-case and a frame; the principles of interrelation between a painting and its frame; the use of the frame as an "annotation" to the painting; and the changing approaches to framing in various periods of Russian art history. Frames always reflect the style of a relevant period and respond to any changes in the style of painting. The exhibition presented a wide variety of frames, showing their evolution from the 13th century through to the present day; most of the exhibits were from the Tretyakov Gallery, but some came from the Historical Museum and from private collections. The exhibition consisted of sections devoted to: Church Art. Icons and Icon-cases; the 18th and early 19th Centuries; the late 19th and early 20th Centuries; "A Precious Frame"; and the 20th Century.

Works essential to the Gallery's permanent exhibition could not be exhibited specially but were included in the catalogue with annotations which explained the frames' semantics and the semantic meaning of the unity between paintings and their frames. Guests were recommended to take a fresh look at paintings that they know well: Vasily Pukirev's "Unequal Marriage"; Ivan Kramskoi's "Christ in the Wilderness"; Vasily Vereshchagin's "Apotheosis of War"; Mikhail Vrubel's "Demon Cast Down"; Viktor Borisov-Musatov's "Emerald Necklace" and others, taking their frames into consideration - perhaps, for the first time. Among the exhibits, framed paintings were juxtaposed with empty frames - for various reasons, the latter had been separated from the works of art which they had once framed.

A number of European and American museums have already showcased frames as part of exhibitions in the last three decades: "Frame for Painting" (1989, Paris); "The Art of Framing" (New York, 1990); "The Painting and the Frame. Perfectly Consistent" (Vienna, 1995); "The Art of the Painting Frame" (London, 1996); and "Framing as Art" (Copenhagen, 2008). In Russia, the Russian Museum presented the first exhibition of this kind, "The Painting's Attire", in 2005, describing the evolution of the art of framing in the period from the late 18th century until the early 20th century. The Tretyakov Gallery exhibition spanned a considerably wider period. Furthermore, in addition to the frame's beauty, the specifics of its design and its decoration curators brought into the limelight such aspects as the interrelation of painting and frame, as well as the frame's express and implied significance that enables a more profound understanding of the painter's original concept. Frames serve both as protection and decoration for paintings, separate them from walls, set the boundaries between reality and the paintings' illusionary world, but often they also become an essential part of the entire composition.

The present exhibition is the first one in the history of the Tretyakov Gallery to explore the frame as an object meriting special attention in itself. It took a long time to realize and to appreciate both the importance and value of these wonderful works of applied and decorative art. Life proved hard for frames in 20th-century Russia: considered of little value, they suffered neglect; moreover, after the revolution their glitter perplexed museum visitors, and was perceived as "ideologically hostile". To disguise their radiant gold, some were repainted, while many paintings lost their original frames. Nobody considered frames to be works of art and they were not properly researched; in addition, the labels with workshop names were not registered, and archives not investigated to research the names of frame-makers. Thus, today we know very little about Russian frame-makers: it is anonymous artists who dominate the world of Russian frames.

The exhibition was organized to attract attention to this vast realm of fine art and to such aspects as the protection and restoration of unique, "designer" frames. To prepare the exhibition, it was necessary to carry out extensive restoration work, but the experience and talent of the Tretyakov Gallery's restorers gave a second life to many pieces and, as the paintings found their frames again, "the two were united in a perfect match".

The opening section presented framings for holy images, spanning the period from the 13th to the early 20th century. Since icons first appeared in the 4th and 5th century, their composition has not varied: the board was divided into two parts - the central one, devoted to the holy image, and the borders which, in a way, played the same role as frames did for secular paintings. The icon's borders were used for various inscriptions: dedications, prayers, and liturgical texts. Thus, a comprehensive set of prayers to the Holy Virgin has survived on the borders of the late 13th century icon "Holy Virgin Hodegetria of Smolensk" from Sergei Ryabushinsky's collection.

Frames for icons first appeared in the late 16th century, decorated with paintings which represented the lives of saints, feast-days,"miracles" (like "The Story of the Miracles of The Fyodorovskaya Mother of God Icon"). The changes were prompted by the need to modify the interiors of church buildings and accommodate revered holy icons of a smaller size in the new, larger iconostases.

The altered design and composition of the iconostasis paved the way for a new type of icon, adorned with magnificent carved and gilded Baroque frames. Often icons and frames were made from one piece of solid wood that was subsequently primed and gilded (like "The Nativity", 1750, from St. Alexius' Church at the Rogozhsky district of Moscow).

In the 18th century, a new trade developed at Kholmogory in the Russian north: icons were carved on bones ("The Resurrection with Feasts", "St. Alexander of Neva, St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker, St. Agrippina of Rome", "The Last Supper"). Kholmogory artists were particularly attentive to the delicate ornaments on the borders that surrounded the icon's central part.

From the 18th century onwards and up to the second decade of the 20th century, some works appeared in one piece: icons in carved, gilded frames were set in special cases, often decorated with expensive veneer sheets (an example of the latter is the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, painted in Moscow in the late 19th century). Framed icons and icons in icon-cases were used for home worship, as a thanksgiving donation to a church, or as a festive offering.

In the late 19th century specialized workshops appeared to manufacture artistic objects for liturgical use. The embroidered icon "St. Tatiana, the Martyr" (1910) was set in a frame manufactured at the Sergiev Posad artistic carpentry workshop in the Moscow gubernia; the sketches for the frame were most likely prepared by Sergei Malyutin. The workshop of the commercial and industrial company "Olovyanishnikov & Sons" made a case for the icon "Blessed Princess Anna Kashinskaya", with its top resembling an arched head-band; Sergei Vashkov, who headed the company's arts department, was the author of this sketch.

The exhibition showed a variety of "precious frames", intended both for religious and secular artworks, that reflect how the concept of framing the image evolved overtime, and demonstrate different techniques of artistic metal-working. Such exhibits were kept in a separate room which served as a "treasury".

Precious adornments of Old Russian artworks did not serve as mere decorations to set off the object's beauty but as integral parts of the icons, meant to emphasize the importance of veneration of the holy image. As an example of such works, the exhibition showcased an embroidered veil that in the 16th-17th centuries constituted a part of the ample medieval decoration for the miracle-working icon of the Holy Virgin and Child (Georgian) at the Suzdal Pokrovsky Monastery. Another interesting item is the framed icon of the Holy Virgin of Kazan in a folding case dating from the 18th-early 19th century. The framing was made using the technique of perforated embossing. In the Orthodox tradition, the frame was considered a tangible manifestation of the image's sacred nature and the choice of material, as well as the type of decoration, reflected the symbolism of ecclesiastical art. However, as material objects belonging to a certain historical period, icon frames were made in accordance with the art style prevailing at the time.

The late 19th-early 20th century section showed a rich tapestry of decorations, diverse in form and manner, manufactured by thejewellery workshops of Moscow and St. Petersburg. From the mid-19th century, high quality jewellery items were made both by hand and mechanically, using rolls to laminate silver, as well as employing steam engines and guilloching machines. Ivan Khlebnikov's well-equipped company produced a wide range of excellent jewellery pieces, of which one fine example is a frame for theTheotokos Iverskaya icon. The frame's "architectural" composition recalls an apse conch encasing the magnificent image of the Holy Virgin and Her Child.

In the early 20th century, new principles developed with regard to the use of the interior domestic space and its contents. Manufactured by Carl Faberge's company, small elegant photograph frames gained popularity, decorating dressing tables and found in parlours. Created by the workshop of Henrik Wigstrom, the author of the renowned Faberge Easter masterpieces, a precious frame for the miniature "Portrait of Princess Zinaida Yusupova" (from the Historical Museum), with its lily-of-the-valley motif, is remarkable for its delicate beauty and unmatched finesse.

Given that most 18th-century frames have not survived, the few that do deserve special attention. These include frames for portraits painted by Alexei Antropov, Georg Christoph Grooth and Dmitry Levitsky; it seems that it was European artists working in Russia who created such works. Many frames presented in this section dated either from the early- or mid-19th century, the period when frame-making in Russia was on the rise and new specialized workshops were being opened. It is not by chance that the process of frame-making attracted the attention of painters: one such example, Vasily Tropinin's small work "A Gilder Frame-maker at Work" was painted in the early 1840s.

The ceremonial portrait merits special consideration here, since it had to present the virtues and merits of the subject to both his or her contemporaries and descendants. A frame for such a portrait served a similar purpose, which was why it was usually gilded and its carved decoration often had more than one meaning. Garlands, military trophies and artistic attributes made the frame "speak" to the viewer, using the language of symbols and allegories. One of the frame's most important elements was the finial, since it informed the viewer of the portrayed person's social status: a crown, family crest or another heraldic symbol often topped the frame.

The exhibition showed frames of ceremonial portraits, representing many facets of the 18th century: an austere, solemn Classicism marks the frame of Prince Alexander Golitsyn's portrait by Dmitry Levitsky, while an adjoining portrait of Countess Varvara Sheremetyeva painted by Georg Grooth captures viewers' attention with its festive Rococo ornament. Next to these two was the portrait of Empress Maria Theresia's children by Alexei Antropov, with a Baroque pattern of intertwined rods decorating the frame. Perfectly matching the artistic styles of the respective paintings, these frames are treasures - like the paintings themselves, they are almost 300 years old.

In the late 19th and early 20th century the style of framing became more of a reflection of the painter's personality, as painters chose or ordered frames for their works based on their own designs. Such artists as Bryullov, Perov, Vasilyev and Semiradsky considered the shape, width, and decoration of the frame while still working on their sketches.

Among his contemporaries, Vasily Vereshchagin's position with regard to framing was the most articulate: the artist made the best use of frames to reveal his intention and establish active contact with the viewer. Vereshchagin called the series of his works "poems", and the works themselves "chapters". The artist tried to "dress up" sketches to "poems", as well as their "chapters", in frames that would match each other in style and relate to the composition of the respective paintings. All the frames for a particular "poem" usually came from the same workshop. Several workshops from different cities and even countries manufactured frames for Vereshchagin's works, providing a variety of forms and styles and giving each set its own distinctive features. For example, many frames for his Turkestan series were manufactured by Louti's workshop in Paris; Omber's workshop worked on frames for the Indian series, while Rostov frame-makers headed by Levozorov "dressed" the Volga series. There is a specific characteristic of Vereshchagin's paintings from the Turkestan and the Balkan series: their frames were inscribed, thus providing the viewer with a certain "clue" to help to interpret the paintwork.

Artists had some preferences that can be discovered by means of analysis of museum collections and archives. Thus, Arkhip Kuindzhi and Nikolai Yaroshenko favoured black frames that enhanced the contrasting colouristic characteristics of Kuindzhi's landscapes, stressing the brightness of light and colours. The simple black sable frame of Nikolay Ghe's "Golgotha" (1893) intensifies the impression of bright, blinding light that fills out the scene, emphasizing the tragedy of the moment.

The Vasnetsov brothers chose for their works wide, massive frames with big relief patterns made of plaster or papier-mache. Sometimes, papier-mache decorations were applied on the frame's wooden base to reduce the total weight of the structure. It is sometimes hard to distinguish frames made of papier-mache, painted with bronze paint and varnished, from those of plaster: papier-mache's pliability and viscosity make it possible to create almost any type of pattern. Because of its light weight, the material was used to create frames for monumental paintings. However, being rather fragile, it cracked and deformed at the slightest impact: for this reason only a few such papier-mache frames survive today.

Vasily Surikov was attentive to "dressing up" his historical paintings: for example, for his "Boyarina Morozova" the artist chose a frame decorated with large plaster chips, covered with bronze paint, to provide a link with the soft snow in the foreground. Frames for many of his sketches and portraits were influenced by Russian folk art and are decorated with wood carving, embroidery and textile ornaments. The frame for his sketch "Boyaryshnya with Hands Folded on Her Chest" was most likely selected by the sketch's first owner, Ilya Ostroukhov. The frame's carved ornaments resonate with the embroidery of the boyaryshnya's hat and on the sleeves of her dress and also remind the viewer of the traditional Russian carvings that adorn wooden window surrounds and shutters. The pattern of the sketch's frame in style resembles Abramtsevo-Kudrino carving; another interesting fact is that the frame has been assembled as an icon-case (using dove-tails).

The "Russian Impressionists" - Isaak Levitan and Konstantin Korovin - preferred frames similar to those used by their French predecessors who chose either old frames or frames replicating the styles of previous periods, and painted them in different colours.2 According to his contemporaries, Levitan would find frames that matched the mood of his paintings. Thus, his work "Twilight. Haystacks" (1899), one of the later paintings from the "Twilight" series, has an ideally fitted frame coloured in misty gray. One might assume that this was the artist's choice.3 Konstantin Korovin's landscape "In the South of France" (1908) provides a typical example: the staccato rhythms and delicate, intricate lines of the frame echo the author's manner of painting.

Often painters preferred to order frames from certain makers and specific workshops: for example, Polenov and Nesterov worked with the frame-maker Grabie. The artists' letters of the time are riddled with complaints and even indignant remarks about "wrong" frames; sometimes, by contrast, they express joy at the frame-maker's success in finding the "key" to the painting so that the frame accentuated the painting's advantages and agreed with the painter's intentions.4 Thus, the frame gradually developed into an element of "signature style". However, albums and catalogues still present paintings unframed and thereby significantly impoverish the narrative of many artworks.5

Frames were quite frequently decorated with symbolic images, becoming a part of an "epigraph" to the work: entwined ropes appeared in the corners of Kramskoi's painting "Christ in the Wilderness" (1872), while the frame of Pukirev's "Unequal Marriage" (1862) was adorned with orange-flowers - these examples can be found in the Tretyakov Gallery's permanent exhibition.6 As for the exhibits in the show itself, Roerich's "Messenger" (1897) deserves mention, with its frame, adorned with jingling copper pendant charms from 10th-13th-century Slavic burial mounds, as does Polenov's "Brestovets" (1878), the latter frame with ornaments reminiscent of Slavic embroidered towels and shirts. In addition, the European tradition of decorating frames with symbols of power was fully developed in Russia, with Repin's "The Reception of the Freeholder Elders by Emperor Alexander III in the Courtyard of the Petrovsky Palace in Moscow" (1886) proving a fine example to illustrate the point.

Working on his painting, "Amidst the Teachers" (1896), Vasily Polenov thoroughly studied the history of the early Church, archaeology, ethnography and costume history to provide the historical context for his composition. The frame's stucco ornament reproduces symbols, characteristic of Judaism, Christianity and Islamic art: palm branches, crescents and an elaborate floral pattern.

The exhibition's special section presented frames in "historical genres": historicism strongly influenced both the architecture and decorative and applied art of the period. It also left its impact on paintings and their frames, replicating the entire spectrum of historical genres that are prefixed with "neo-": from the Renaissance and Gothic to Rococo and Classicism. Authors of "neo-Greek" paintings that depicted classical scenes or landscapes with picturesque ancient ruins often ordered frames for their works decorated with meander, laurel and palmettos. Bronnikov's "Consecration of a Herm" (1874), Semiradsky's "An Orgy at the Time of Tiberius on the Island of Capri" (1881), Polenov's "Erechtheion. The Portico of Caryatids" (1882) and "Parthenon. The Temple of Athena Parthenos" (1882) provide striking examples of such "painting+frame" stylistic pairings. Among the exhibits there were also works in "neo-Baroque" and "neo-Rococo" styles which are almost indistinguishable: Repin's painting "Portrait of an Old Lady" (early 1870s) boasts a rich, opulent frame; the frame of Jacobi's work "Fools at Anna Ioannovna's Court" (1872) also stands out with its massive stucco corners, echoing the interior of the depicted palace.

The Renaissance period was not neglected either. 19th-century frames continuously replicated such "tabernacle", "cassetta" and "sansovino" archetypes. "Tabernacle"-type frames had elements of classical architecture: a base, pilasters, and an entablement. These elements can be seen in the frame of Vasily Smirnov's sketch titled "The Byzantine Queen Enters Her Ancestors' Tomb in the Morning" (1884). This type of frame is associated with the portal of a temple through which the viewer sees the action. The permanent exhibition of the Tretyakov Gallery showcases fine examples of such "tabernacles" manufactured by Grabie's workshop: they frame Nesterov's works "The Vision of Young Bartholomew" (1889-1890), "The Youth of St. Sergius" (1892-1897) and his triptych "The Works of St. Sergius" (1896-1897).7 "Sansovino"-type frames represent a more elaborate form of the "tabernacle", characterized by such details as carved scrolls, volutes, garlands, ringlets, and even caryatids. They were named after the Italian artist Jacopo Sansovino (1486-1570) since Sansovino used the same motifs in his works that would later adorn paintings' frames. Konstantin Makovsky's painting "At the Artist's Studio" (1881) features such a "sansovino" frame.

The customized frame for Repin's "Portrait of Leo Tolstoy" (1887) represents an example of the "casseta" type (from the Italian cassetta, meaning a box). Frame-makers achieved the "double-layer" effect by applying marble chips that were subsequently painted with bronze and provided a background for a fine embossed relief with "grotesque" motifs executed in black.8 The frame's black colour harmonizes with the colour of Tolstoy's attire and of his armchair9: the writer preferred black furniture. For frames of this type, the decor usually repeated itself on each of the listels.

The interest in the pseudo-Gothic manifested itself in architecture as well as in decorative and applied art: pseudo-Gothic furniture and interior items appeared, including picture and mirror frames. A "Gothic" frame brings certain overtones to a painting, playing on time and space. For example, the frames for Karl Bryullov's two small works "Evening Prayer" and "Pifferari Before the Holy Virgin's Image" resemble the proportions of a medieval church, flanked by twin columns, thus defining the borders of architectural space beyond the painting.

The "neo-Russian" style, characteristic of Russian historicism, also affected the decoration of frames. Typical examples are those for Vyacheslav Schwartz's "Ivan the Terrible at the Bedside of His Murdered Son" (1864) and "The Tsarina's Spring Train on Pilgrimage in Alexei Mikhailovich's Time" (1868) which replicate elements of traditional Russian woodcarving. In the late 19th century, imitation of historical styles and of various materials became a characteristic feature of applied and decorative art. In the case of frame decorations, a technique developed that enabled etching on levkas to imitate chase. Frames of this type were used for such works as Pavel Sorokin's "God in Three Persons" (1870), Mikhail Vasilyev's "God Sabaoth", and Stefan Bakatowicz's "The Roman Poet Catullus Reads His Works to Friends" (1885).

In the late 19th century, a massive perspective frame had to emphasize the illusion of reality, making the painting more life-like. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, frames underwent significant transformation: they became narrower, simpler in design, and more flat, adjusting to their changed functions - to frame paintings that looked like decorative panels or tapestries. These new paintings did not have to be separated from the wall; on the contrary, they had to accentuate the wall's flat surface. Thus, the frame's colour would have to match that of the painting: frames were decorated with patterns imitating those of textile, so that the frame would fade, fusing together with painting. All such stages of the frame's evolution from the 1890s through to the 1910s gradually led to the decision to renounce the frame in the 20th century.

The Art Nouveau period brought the baguette frame to Russia, and special factories were opened to start its production. The frame-manufacturing process became faster and easier: stucco ornament could be applied with a paint roller, and trained specialists developed patterns. Some rollers dating from the late 19th to early 20th centuries have been preserved in the restoration workshops of the Tretyakov Gallery. Russia exported baguette frames to Europe and those frames, remarkable for their variety of patterns, proved highly competitive in the European market. Stylized floral motifs, like lilies, waterlilies and irises, were typical for the period, and adorned the frames' listels. These Art Nouveau frames were often decorated with fabrics, like lace or velvet (one example of the latter is Vrubel's painting "Demon Cast Down", 1902, from the Tretyakov Gallery permanent exhibition).

Frames of that period are particularly "sensitive" to the rhythm of the painting's composition and texture. For example, the frame for Borisov-Musatov's "Emerald Necklace" (19031904) has an overlaid stucco ornament with pointed laurel leaves, positioned counter to movements of the women depicted, thus enhancing the sense of slowly passing time, and of that strange condition of dream-like reality, of a slipping illusion.

In the 20th century, frames underwent a strange transformation: first, they were completely renounced, then later aggrandized. People "argued" with the frame, fought against it, consciously used frames from earlier periods for 20th-century works, and all such intellectual games with the frame coincided with standardization - namely, the industrial production of baguette frames, diverse in style.

In the 1910s and 1920s, abstract works by Russian avant-garde artists did not need elaborate frames: instead, they were usually simple and neat. However, in the period of Socialist Realism between the 1930s and the 1950s, artists returned to the traditions of the "late Wanderers", and "old type" frames were restored to their former glory, helping to create an illusion of a deeper figurative space (as in Fyodor Reshetnikov's work "Failed Again", 1952). However, the "Soviet baguette frames" represent a significantly "impaired" version of such frames, both in terms of form and quality.

The variety of forms and materials used to create designer frames in the 20th century is truly impressive and includes iron, plastic and construction foam (in Leonid Berlin's "Escalator (The Morning in America)", 1976; Rostislav Lebedev's "Kewpie Doll", 1973; and Fenso Group's "Ice Hockey Player", 1998). An artist can make the frame a part of his work (as in Sergei Mironenko's painting "The Goldobins", 1983) or allow the painting to expand beyond its space, spreading over the frame (Vladimir Nemukhin"s "Black Card-table", 1990, is one such example). Many frames of that period are integral to the paintings.

Sometimes the "painting+frame" union is based on contrasts, rather than harmony: the "part" of the painting sharply contrasts with that of the frame, both in colours and in meaning (in Jonas Daniliauskas' "Pigs in the Slaughterhouse", 1978, and Anatoly Osmolovsky's "After Postmodernism You Can Only Cry Out", 1994).

Despite the variety of frames and difference in approaches to their use in the 20th century, one can easily find a link with the art of the past, from the Middle Ages to the early modern period. For example, Dmitry Zhilinsky inscribed the frame of his triptych "1937" (1987) with the words: "Dedicated to All Innocent Victims of Lawless Reprisals" and attached his father's rehabilitation certificate to it, thus "reviving" the memory of Vereshchagin's works, with their painting-appeals and painting-proclamations. Another modern artist, Leonid Purygin, addressed the theme of a medieval folding icon in his works ("The White Triptych", 1987; "The Green Triptych", 1987: "Love is Space", 1988), which became his"style signature".

As for the artists of the 1960s, a philosophical and metaphorical attitude to framing gained popularity in Russian graphic art: thus, in his work "The Party in Moscow" (1971) Viktor Pivovarov provided a visual expression of the popular idiom "to cross the line" - one of the partiers "flies out" from the symbolic frame.

Mironenko's painting "The Goldobins" (1983) boasts a splendid, brightly coloured frame that recalls the decoration of Moscow's Yaroslavl Railway Station. This provides a sharp contrast with the tiny gray faceless figures of the painting, emphasizing the greater value of the frame when compared to the persons depicted. With the same intention, Fyodor Khitruk uses a "frame" concept in his cartoon "A Framed Man" (1966) which was also shown at the exhibition.

One of the frame's functions is to "crop" reality, to separate the episode from the whole. A landscape seen through a workshop's window, with its view limited by the window frame (or by a camera lens) may prompt thoughts on the nature of art. Should a landscape's fragment, transferred to a canvas, be considered a painting, a work of art? (Oleg Vasilyev's work "The View from a Studio Window (Moscow Courtyard)", 1990, is relevant in such a debate).

Reappearing in 20th century art, the theme of frames and mirrors has a long history: Serov often used this concept in his works. Georgy Rublev chose an oval, "old-style" frame for his painting "A Letter from Kiev" to create the illusion of a mirror reflecting a round table with various items that were indicative of the time, including Stalin's "Report on the Political Affairs" dated June 27 1930. Thus, the author brings together two lifestyles - one from the past, the other drawing on the new Soviet reality.

"The Tibetan Frames", a fragment of Oleg Kulik's "Frames" installation (2012), which was presented at Regina Gallery in 2013, completed the exhibition.10 Kulik's project bring into the picture another challenging theme that frames invoke - that of emptiness.11

An inextricable link between the frame and the nature of the framed painting exists. The identification of this link enables us to fully appreciate the essence of the creative process and expands our understanding of the "artwork narrative". A frame is one of the means to establish a dialogue with the viewer - if we ignore it, we may lose an important part of the artist's message. In addition to fresh artistic ideas, this exhibition helped many a viewer to discover just this fascinating "frame world".

* Collection of the Tretyakov Gallery

  1. This article draws on information from the catalogue, as well as relevant annotations and explications provided by: G.V. Sidorenko, E.Y. Smirnova, L.V. Kovtyreva, E.D. Evseeva, S .V. Solovyev, E.Y. Smirnov.
  2. In the 20th century, painters often used frames of previous periods (the 19th-early 20th century). By"dressing up" some of their works in such a manner, representatives of the Russian avant-garde accentuated the novelty of their style. A different case was that of Pyotr Konchalovsky, who deliberately chose an early 19th century carved gilded frame for his neo-Baroque still-life "The Green Wine Glass" (1933) with the purpose of imitating "the old art". In this case, the frame was intended to ennoble the painting, giving it a certain aura of "times past".
  3. According to Yakov Minchenkov, Levitan preferred"delicate frames" that accorded with the mood and"note" of his paintings. (Minchenkov, Yakov. "Memories of the Wanderers". Leningrad, 1959; p. 288).
  4. Frames for the "Sergievsky" series were ordered from Grabie's workshop in accordance with the artist's wish. (Nesterov, Mikhail. "Letters". Selected Works. Leningrad, 1988; p. 184).
  5. Such reproductions sometimes distort the author's idea: for example, Serov's"Portrait of the Actress Glikeria Fedotova" (1905, Tretyakov Gallery) in a flat frame with light oak veneer and a semi-rounded top resembles a reflection in a mirror (transparent for the viewer), as if the actress rehearses her part in the dressing room before her entrance. Without this frame, the viewer may find it difficult to understand the actress' pose and gestures.
  6. Frames of the late 19th century are remarkable for the naturalism of their decor that distinguishes them from stylized ornamented pieces of the earlier period (the 18th-early 19th century) and from examples of modernist style.
  7. Nesterov paid great attention to the frames of his"Sergius" series, a fact attested by his correspondence preceding the first exhibition of his painting"Youth of St. Sergius" (Nesterov, Mikhail."Letters". Moscow, 1988; p. 83).
  8. "Apparently, an austere frame with elements of Renaissance decor was chosen with the intention to compare the great writer with a Renaissance genius" (Tarasov, Oleg. 'A Frame and an Image. Framing Rhetoric in the Russian Art'. Moscow 2007. "Selected Works", p. 308).
  9. Repin repainted the frame black at the request of Pavel Tretyakov (Tarasov, Oleg. "Selected Works", p. 308).
  10. "The Tibetan Frames" show difficulties in conveying a sacred experience. They create a mirror corridor, and the viewer sees his reflection, infinitely multiplied in frames composed of glaring surgical light, and may feel the presence of an outside observer. A wooden "fire - in Buddhism, a symbol of the purification of the self - forms the setting's outer frame," says Oleg Kulik.
  11. Ilya Kabakov's "The Decorator Malygin" (a sheet from the"Ten Characters" album, 1986) is one of the "landmark" works touching this theme.





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