"Closed Corner Frames"
by: Gabriel Diego Delgado
Gallery Director, J.R. Mooney Galleries-Boerne
The elegance of the closed corner frame is something that cannot be ignored.
The truth lies in its visual appeal! The 90 degree lines of the miter cut in the wood mouldings are invisible, hidden from our viewing experience. Cartouches are often used as the corner crest for the applique in the center of the joined section. Reaching its heyday in the Baroque and Rococo periods, the cartouche served an important role in the visual appeal of closed corner frames.
17th century cartouches often were employed to be reflective of the coat of arms of the bearer in the portraits. Corner motifs, particularly acanthus leaves, oak leaves and acorns were also used within the closed corner centers to act as elaborate, carved intricacies linking the architectural elements of the actual frame back to nature.
Made from composition, the appliques could be glued to the frame by warming the compound which was being applied to the gessoed wooden structure. The sizing, gesso, and glue in both parts would cool and harden, cementing the applique in place. Composition was a mixture of whiting (calcium carbonate), hide glue, resins, linseed oil, and water. The paste would be pressed into reverse-carved molds made of shellac, let dry, and removed. Sometimes applied and then carved, pre-existing box molds would be used to cast the “compo” to form decorative and ornamental accents for the frames.
These accents would be and are used with the closed corner frames as well as a host of other styles and time periods leading into today’s post-neo-ultra-framing aesthetic.