‘Mr Davies exhibits only one painting, Moonrise, but he has a great deal to say with it. In its simplicity of composition, the breadth and power of the execution, and in the delicacy of values, it is perhaps the most impressive and original work in the exhibition.’
The Age, 25 October 1894
The painting appears in this frame in a photograph from the Loan Exhibition of Australian Art at the National Art Gallery of N.S.W., (later the Art Gallery of New South Wales) Sydney, April 1918. It is the frame that appears in an entry in Thallon’s ledger, under National Gallery, November 13, 1898: ‘preparing and gilding 1 large frame 6ft 3 x 5ft 3 “moonrise” ’. The work cost £4-14. As with the frame for Arthur Streeton’s ‘The purple noon’s transparent might’, which appears in another National Gallery entry a few months before, this entry does not describe the making of the frame but rather the refinishing of it. We are left to wonder what the original appearance of the frame might have been.
The unevenness of the rough-sawn frieze section, which is now in part filled with gesso, suggests it might originally have been more consistently coarse, fitting more closely with a ‘rustic’ rough-sawn look. There is very little preparation under the gilding, even on the outer section, suggesting the frame might have presented a plain timber surface in an earlier form. This would seem consistent with the ledger entry. The re-surfacing of the frame reflects the intention of the director Bernard Hall.1 The frame is one of a group sold as a job lot in 1941. It was re-acquired from the monastery of The Benedictine Community of New Norcia Inc and returned to the painting in 2001.
1 Hall was NGV director from 1892 to 1935, the longest serving director of the Gallery. His influence on the framing of the collection has not been adequately researched.
The frame is made from simple wooden sections glued and nailed together. The flat section is of rough sawn timber, bevelled at the sight edge and let in to the outer frame. The outer frame is profiled from a block, with the beads either side made up from separate pieces. It is attached to the flat with glue and nails. All sections are mitred at the corners. The outer frame is re-enforced with braces screwed across the mitres. Angled wedges brace the outer section to the flat. The rebate is formed by the addition of wooden battens. The surface is now deteriorated and complicated by re-surfacing. It is largely matte gilded with a contracted and discoloured glue size coating.
The structure of the frame is intact. Both the gilding and the surface coating are deteriorated, but these layers are presumed to have been applied in 1898 and are not necessarily representative of the original appearance of the frame.