National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1932
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 frame is built from three principal wooden sections with the addition of a slip. The inner and outer sections consist largely of bundled reeds. Each of the sections is mitred at the corners. The flat is an oak veneer on a softwood base. The gilding is direct to the timber. The slip is water gilded with a deteriorated size coating. The reverse of the flat is chamfered along the edges and held in place with skewed nails. The sight edge of the slip carries a small cavetto.
The frame is in largely original condition with some dents, abrasions and staining of the surface.
The frame is an almost exact copy of one of the frames designed by James Abott McNeill Whistler.1 Characteristically for a Chapman frame, it is well built. Though this frame appears in the early twentieth century, the Whistler prototype comes from the early 1880s, reminding us of the popularity of the ‘Whistlerian’ profiles. They had a revival in Melbourne in the 1940s for the reframing of nineteenth-century Australian paintings, replacing individual and, curiously, sometimes similarly aesthetically restrained frames. In this example it is tempting to see a conscious decision by Conder to use a definitive Aesthetic Movement framing style.2
1 The profile of the Whistler frame appears in Bill Adair’s ‘Endangered Frames: to save a butterfly’, Picture Framing Magazine, August 1995, Fig.3, p.26. The drawing does not indicate the frame is made up from sections, as with this example. The profile of the Chapman frame is almost the same height and width, suggesting it is a very direct copy of a similar frame.
2 A Chapman label with the 251 King’s Road address is also found on Conder’s Dance by the fountain in Boston. (This information was provided by Lynn Roberts.)