Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Tabernacle Frame Revisited

Tabernacle frames have been around for a long time. I didn't realize just how long until recently. Many of us are familiar with the Renaissance versions of this frame and even later 18th century and early 20th century styles. But in researching the history of this frame design, I discovered that its development formed the basis of the modern frame. Its a little like the "missing link" between architecture and the modern fine art frame.

Its proper name is an aedicule which means loosely "little house". It has its origins in the 4th century cathedrals which sprung up all over the Roman Empire once Christianity had been sanctioned. Its purpose was to house sacred altarpieces and it was designed to be attached to and part of the architecture surrounding it. Its basic elements- two columns topped with an entablature or pediment- would become the standard design concept of framing. Byzantine and Gothic examples abound. Much later, in the 16th century, the idea of portability was introduced and the form was used to "house" non religious subjects. The detached frame was born. But, craftsman instinctively used the "little house" design concepts when making the earliest frames for easel paintings. Over the centuries, the aedicule form came in and out of fashion and echoed the architectural and design components of the day.

The frame shown above on Twilight Moon is our contemporary version of the tabernacle frame. Its proportion and design echoes the traditional elements but gives a more contemporary, though still traditional look to the frame. The panel is a matte dark maroon surrounded by a distressed gold outer molding with a distressed gold inner lip.


Dale Sherman Blodget said...

Very pretty. But do you enjoy framing? I do not. I spent hours today on that very project for an upcoming show. Now your post makes me think I simply need an attitude adjustment! It's only money... and all that.

Anonymous said...

Deborah, I LOVE this frame. It's absolutely beautiful and knowing the history deepens my appreciation. Expect orders from me for future shows!

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Dale. I actually enjoy putting the final touches on the presentation of my work. I'm glad you like it!

Hi Tess- thank you! We'd be happy to make them for you.

Edcooper_art said...

Hi Deborah, havent dropped into your blog for a while, WOW! stuff looks great!....great tonal compositions...keep it up!

Steve sculpts critters said...

Did you know the Tudors invented carpet?
Hey, I'll email you a pic of your painting from Albuquerque tonight with my shiny new phone toy thingy.
I believe it's called an ear phone.
Or something.