The frame is built up from a mitred wooden profile which sits on top of a lap-jointed back-frame. The two sections are joined in such a way as to appear as one. All the decorative elements of the surface are carved in timber. The main ogee profile is carved to leave smooth panels in relief against recessed sections of flowers and leaves on a stippled ground. The twisted ribbon on the outer edge appears also to be carved in timber but is applied to the edge and held in place with pins. The sight edge pattern is carved. The surface appears to be gold leaf on a red bole. The edges of the panel sections are de-lineated with a margin of burnished gilding. The frame has been carved as a unit after the members were joined to form the rectangle. The carved timber carries a gesso layer, which also fills the intersections of joins in the structure.
The frame is largely in good condition. The carved elements have survived well. The panels on each member, which had been over-painted with gold paint, were cleaned in 2007.2
The frame is notable for being carved in timber rather than using moulded or cast ornament. It is in the style of Venetian ‘Canaletto’ frames from the early years of the eighteenth century and seems in many ways a curious choice for the subject of the painting. A number of frames of this style appear in the collection, the most notable being the large frame made by Pollak, London, in 1955 for Giambattista Tiepolo’s Banquet of Cleopatra. (103-4). A nearly identical frame was made for Giovanni Battista Pittoni’s The miracle of the loaves and fishes (2360-4) before it came into the collection in 1951. A similar frame to this one, in the ‘Canaletto’ style, can be found on Arthur Streeton‘s Chinese screen (1427-3) from 1923 and another on George Lambert’s Lotty and a lady (492-2).
1 The cleaning was carried out by MaryJo Lelyveld in the studio of Frames and Furniture conservation at the NGV.