American Impressionist Frame Reproduction

Antique Frame Reproduction

Our shop recently completed an antique frame reproduction project for one of our museum clients. The original frame is an American profile simplified from the American Impressionist style with hand carved arrow fletching motif in the corners. The panel (flat area in the middle of the frame rails) is chip- carved giving it an undulating texture with periodic crescent shapes. Because the new frame is small (for a painting 8” x 10”) the client asked us to make without the crescents.

Am. Impressionist Original

We began by purchasing raw wood moulding with an American Impressionist profile and then we carved off some decorative elements to match the original frame. Once the frame was built, we made the chip-carve using a spoon shaped chisel. We drew the corner decorations by hand and rubbed the drawing onto the frame. This gave us a guide for the actual carving which was completed with chisels of various shapes as well as razor knives.




After applying several layers of gesso and red bole to smooth the surface, we gilded the frame with 22K gold which resulted in a very bright finish that needed to be toned and antiqued to match the original frame. This step was perhaps the most satisfying because the frame took on the illusion of age that is appropriate to the painting it was built for.


A final coat of wax deepens and saturates all the layers that have been applied. The two frames can now be exhibited side-by- side without a hint that one is brand new.


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