From the mail

Some questions about the frame above, from Mr. Arthur Rooks, of Zurich. Mr. Rooks is a very "eclectic" dealer, as having explored his site, Quintessentia, he collects and markets a vast array of interesting and aesthetically pleasing objects.

The questions: "I am a really big fan of your blog. I am not sure why but I have always liked frames. I am a dealer of 20th century furniture but I always
find myself looking for frames. Of course, the trick is then to find a work of art to fit them. Hence, I end up with stacks of frames.

I have a question regarding a frame that I have purchased at a flea market. It is completely carved with shells and
reeding (I hope this is the right term). However, unlike other European frames that I have found, this has gilding directly on the wood and does
not have a layer of gesso underneath. Do you have any idea of the time period of the frame? I think it is late 19th century.

Do you think it is American or English, perhaps.
I forgot to mention that I live in Zurich Switzerland. I have attached photos of the frame. It is quite large at 39.5 x 43.75 inches."

My response: "Mr. Rooks,

Thanks for liking the blog!

There was a period, early 20th. c. when grainy woods like oak, were sealed and leafed directly, usually based on Whistler style frames, though sometimes carved, and gilt with out gesso, though this frame does not look like that was the aesthetic intended.

The frame has a certain, "naive, primitive" quality to it. The finish appears to be bronze powder pigment, in a binder, usually  lacquer. The "shells" don't line up on two of the corners, indicating the moldings were carved as stick moldings; not a closed corner frame.

It does appear to be either late 19th. or early 20th. c. At some period, the rabbett was enlarged.

The section that appears to be water damaged, also seems to show some white material, possibly a thin layer of gesso? The oxidation of the bronze powder, turning it green; another indication of paint.

That is about all I can tell from the photos, though having googled you, it seems to be in keeping with some of the other items you carry; this: Expressionist wood sculpture."

Some further responses:

The question of being English or American, is not really answerable, though in America, we tended to import frames, not export them. The wood could be American, as the frame is from the period when the great Northern forests were being mowed, and a lot of the wood was exported.

I, too, have a vast collection of "junk" frames that have negative value, but I store them, as I have not the heart to discard them, and short of painting a painting for them specifically, it is next to impossible to connect art and frame, without modifying one or the other.

The term "reeding" is usually used  in the sense of parallel "rods", though that can also be "beading", and "beading" may also refer to chains of balls, or small lozenges.