This is the original frame for the painting. Despite its simple and almost austere aesthetic, it was replaced in favour of a Whistlerian model, most likely by J. S. MacDonald in a wave of ‘modernization’ around 1940. We do not see many frames with this form, despite there being numerous thumbnail sketches for various clients through the Thallon ledger 1888–1903. The frame surely reflects Roberts’ interest in the simple frames emerging in Europe at this time, which were introduced very rapidly to Melbourne by Thallon. Both Roberts and Thallon had studio space in 95 Collins Street. The frame was found in the monastery of The Benedictine Community of New Norcia Inc. in 1996 and returned to the painting in 1997.2
1 Hilary Maddocks, ‘Picture Framemakers in Melbourne c. 1860–1930’ in vol. 1, Frames, Melbourne Journal of Technical Studies in Art, University of Melbourne Conservation Service, 1999.
2 The frame was brought to our attention by Joy Legge in 1996.
J. & T. Thallon 95 Collins Street East, Melbourne
The frame is essentially a simple stepped wooden profile finished in gold leaf on a black bole, burnished on the cavetto at the sight edge. The gilding other than the burnished area carries a glue size. The sides of the raised sections are slightly tapered, suggesting the use of a profile scraper to smooth the gesso surface of the profile to provide a high level of finish.
The frame is in good original condition, though the glue size is discoloured, crazed and stained and two of the mitres have opened through contraction of the timber.