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Research into Frames

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen holds some six hundred paintings dating from the long nineteenth century (1780-1914). The museum is conducting a long-term research project aimed at enhancing the still sketchy knowledge about the frames in which these works are mounted.

It emerged during the recalibration of the collection that the nineteenth-century frames were not always in good condition. At that time the growing demand for contemporary art boosted the production of frames. A mechanical manufacturing process used moulds to stamp out ornaments as a quicker and cheaper alternative to decorations carved from wood. In many cases, the materials that were used make the frames vulnerable. It has also been shown that in the course of a painting’s life, nothing is as changeable as the frame. Artists, dealers, collectors and museum directors could all alter or replace the framing. Which framing is still original? What did the finish of the original look like? Who chose the current framing and which considerations played a part in the decision? It is important from a conservation point of view to find answers to such questions.

Rembrandt Society Research Grant 
The first phase of this long-term investigation is being made possible by a generous grant from the Rembrandt Society’s Ekkart Fund. Researcher Milou Goverde can make a start on achieving the museum’s goals of unearthing material-related and stylistic knowledge and stories about frames for both art professionals and interested art lovers.

The Investigation’s Three Phases

The first phase of the project involves art historical research. Thanks to the varied and international composition and provenance of the collection, this will generate new insights into the stylistic trends and the production of frames in the nineteenth century in relation to the rapidly growing art trade and its well-to-do middle-class clientele, as well as the emerging museum world. The condition of the frames will be inventoried in the second phase. A restoration plan will be drawn up where necessary. In the third phase a selection of frames will be given appropriate treatment and made presentable. At the same time a visitor programme will be developed in the new Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen.

The Investigation’s Three Phases
The frame of the 1844 painting 'View of the Roads of Vlissingen' by Théodore Gudin was restored in 2020

Outside Consultants

The museum has set up a sounding board group to provide substantive support during the investigation. The members include experts from the Rijksmuseum (Hubert Baija, former frame restorer, and Jenny Reynaerts, senior curator of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century painting) and the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE). They will provide input on the structure of the investigation, make their networks available and critically review research issues.  


Outside Consultants
Expertmeeting in Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, 23 september 2021