Analyzing re-framing and surface treatments of picture frames

Gini Kingma

The Rijksmuseum Twenthe houses several pictures with frames in a style that is not contemporary with that of the painting. This is the case of Sébastien Bourdon’s The adoration of the magi, a 17th-century classicist painting with a neo-classical frame probably dating from the beginning of the 19th century. The combination of the painting and frame is generally thought to be very good. However, the frame is in poor condition and in need of intensive conservation and restoration. This begs the following questions: Is using a contemporary frame, in the case of reframing, a given? And is the “historical reframing” of our Bourdon worth maintaining?

Moreover, the museum recently acquired portraits by Alexander Roslin of 1793 with festive gilded frames in a Louis XVI style. Though the frames are quite new, their surface has been artificially aged and patinated. An example in our collection of “the other extreme” is the frame on a portrait by Jan Antonisz. van Ravesteyn, which has a new gilded surface that is neither aged nor toned. I would like to exchange views on the rather common habit of creating a “gently aged surface” on newly gilded frames, and do so by walking through the galleries.

About Gini Kingma

After a brief career as a landscape architect, Kingma discovered that her real passion was conservation. She began with furniture conservation and found that she was most interested in picture frames, especially gilded ones. She received her training as a conservator of frames and gilded objects in museums and ateliers in the Netherlands (for instance, The Netherlands Institute of Cultural Heritage), and elsewhere, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Jacques Goujon’s Atelier de restauration de bois dorés in Paris. Since 1995 she has been conservator of frames at the Rijksmuseum Twenthe.