C. M. May
18 St. Ann's Court, Wardour Street,
The basic structure of this frame is made up from a number of timber sections, glued together to form an inverted ‘U’ shape, which has subsequently been profiled and the torus section added. The torus sits on a relatively thin base. The overall structure is braced at the centres on the reverse and at the corners. The torus appears to be from plaster and is a high-relief, large-scale pattern of laurel and berry. The corners carry a broad band. The torus section has very few cracks and sits on a broad, flat, leading edge. The smaller runs of ornament are from composition. The frame is gilded throughout. The inner cavetto is burnished on a red bole. The other surfaces are matte, possibly carrying a matte size layer. The torus appears to be oil gilded. The gilding runs through to the working edge.
The frame is in near perfect original condition. In places, the gilding is worn exposing the deep red bole. There are losses in the small-scale composition sections.
- 127.5 x 158.0 x 13.0 cm; sight 90.3 x 121.0 cm
- More information
- National Portrait Gallery
The frame is one of a number of highly finished frames that show a very refined level of craftsmanship in their manufacture. It is distinguished by the basic structure, which uses smaller sections of timber than usual to build the base of the profile. The subsequent hollow nature of the chassis has allowed the overlying form to remain stable, without cracking or distorting. Similarly, the torus section is almost free of cracking. The maker is identified by an ink stencil applied to the timber pieces that brace the structure in the centres of the sides on the reverse. The stencil transcribes: C M MAY, 18 St Ann’s Court, WARDOUR STREET, W. GILDER & FRAME MANUFACTURER.1
1 The company came into existence towards the end of the nineteenth century and traded until 1922. May worked extensively for John Singer Sargent, advertising the use of both English and French craftsmen. See Jacob Simon, The Art of the Picture Frame, National Portrait Gallery, 1996, p. 135.