National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1922
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
The Triptych with the Miracles of Christ, c.1470-95, was acquired in 1922 with a frame made in London by Francis Draper.
It is one of a number of paintings in the collection that were re-framed at the time of their acquisition in London.
Correspondence from Frank Rinder in London, 12 January 1922, notes: “The triptych suffers from being in a lamentably poor, plain wood frame. With the approval of Mr Wing I have taken advantage of Mr Romaine Walker’s kind offer to design and estimate for an appropriate frame in the Flemish style of about 1500. Mr Romaine Walker takes a keen interest in woodwork, and several excellent carvers work for him.”
A further note in the correspondence states: “The frame, akin to those of several works of the period in the English National Gallery, has been made by Mr F. Draper, who works for the N.G.”
It is tantalising to think the ‘plain wood frame’ might have been the original frame stripped of its painted and gilded surface, as with many of these frames at the time, but the references to Flemish frames of the period suggest the authors would have recognised an original frame and retained it, even if it had been stripped.
The frame that Draper built in 1922 is modelled on the form of fifteenth century Flemish frames, though being entirely gilded is not common and the profile is narrow.
The frame is cleverly made to incorporate glazing, suggesting it was built as a museum quality form of protective presentation. The reverse of the frames on the wings have inset mouldings that are secured with screws, to ‘clamp’ the combined glass, spacers, panels in place. The rebates are correspondingly deep to accommodate the components.
The original frame for the triptych would likely have been wider in section and a mixture of painted and gilded surfaces.
The five paintings comprising the triptych were cleaned and restored in 2012/13.