Cover image for The gilded edge : the art of the frame
The gilded edge : the art of the frame
Wilner, Eli.
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Chronicle Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
203 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 32 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N8551.U6 G55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



Consider the frame as a work of art itself. This in-depth examination of the beauty and diversity of antique American frames is comprised of diverse essays by curators, scholars, artists, and art lovers. The craft of matching frame to work is beautifully illustrated in the 150 images.

Author Notes

Eli Wilner owns Eli Wilner & Company, a Manhattan business that recently took on the framing of 27 American paintings in the White House collection.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

It's a frame-up! New York frame dealer and restorer Wilner has compiled an elegant and substantial book of words and images about the history and aesthetics of the rectangular things that go around paintings, with a tight focus on American art. Though often neglected by professional critics, frames have played many roles in shaping the look and feel of paintings, restricting or opening up the visual and cultural fields in which paintings appear. Painters like James McNeill Whistler put care and attention to making their frames themselves; designers and craftspeople from other media, like the architect Stanford White, also created significant picture frames. After a quick introduction by Wilner himself, 10 essaysÄby curators, academic art historians and practicing framersÄintroduce readers to picture frames' past and their present; 175 plates (many in color) show, sometimes just frames, sometimes paintings in frames, and make the book a pleasure to leaf through. Framer Suzanne Smeaton discusses the frames designed by painters, furnishing many beautiful full-page examples: Florine Stettheimer's white-and-gold, carved-and-gilded setting for her Beauty Contest simulates curtains at a fancy theater, while Georgia O'Keeffe's scalloped metal frame for her Ram's Head sheathes the painting's loud browns in a quieter black. Princeton art historian Sally Mills's essay "From Parlors to Pueblos" shows, with examples from Remington, Church and others, how "the diversity of western frames parallels the diversity found in western paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art associate curator Carrie Rebora Barratt shows how the Met has kept track of its frames, corrected framing mistakes and gleaned information about painters' own choices, with particular attention to 19th-century realist painter Thomas Eakins. Appendixes include a glossary of frame types, terms and ornamentation. American frames became collectible in their own right, and a subject of special art historical attention, only about 20 years ago: this hefty and attractive volume shows how far the study of frames has already come. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This beautifully produced and richly illustrated volume provides a useful and highly interesting survey of frames in America for more than 200 years. Wilner, whose company specializes in antique American frames, has compiled ten chapters written by scholars, museum curators, and collectors, among others. Various chapters cover frames designed by artists, frames designed by Stanford White, and frames of the American West between 1855 and 1925. Nancy Rivard Shaw presents a fascinating discussion of frames that have been separated from their original "occupants," were never meant for the paintings that presently occupy them, or were reunited with the original paintings. Carrie Rebora Barratt's chapter on frames in the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains some exquisite photographs that will inspire the reader to examine frames as well as pictures on his or her next trips to a museum. An index would have been helpful, but the bibliography and glossary (covering basic framing terms, techniques, construction, and frame types) are most welcome. The ornament section and the line drawings accompanying the latter section are clear and very informative. A book for every academic and public library.DMartin Chasin, Adult Inst., Bridgeport, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

An informative, richly illustrated discussion of the importance of the picture frame as an integral part of viewers' experience of the work it surrounds, this study is confined to the history of American art, where such sensibilities, long cultivated in Europe, emerged in the 19th century. Ten brief chapters written by specialists in the field are presented in three parts: the historical background of the subject; some notable variations of frame style; and three instructive instances of recent museum projects involving that once-neglected aspect of the care and display of their collections. The concerns of Whistler, Eakins, Stanford White, and other major creative figures for the role of the frame are vividly elucidated in part 2. The consequences of that growing awareness for collectors, dealers, and scholars are, of course, self-evident. The techniques of fabrication, finishing, and ornamentation mentioned throughout are explained in the text and diagrams of the glossary. Though the quality and character of the work of art itself unquestionably remain paramount, the value of the frame as a means of enhancing the direct experience of that work may well be overlooked, especially by those familiar with the visual arts primarily from viewing reproductive images, not actual objects. All levels. F. A. Trapp; emeritus, Amherst College