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Screenshots from History of Picture Frames course. All content copyright 2021 Hubert Baija.

History of Picture Frames: 15th-21st Centuries

From March 31–April 30, 2021, I attended a ten hour online seminar focusing on the history of European picture frames from the 15th to the 21st century. The course was taught by Hubert Baija, Senior Conservator of Gilding and Frames at the Rijksmuseum, The Netherlands, from 1990–2020, and PhD researcher at the University of Amsterdam.


The course focused on the evolution of picture frame designs as well as their construction, decoration, and conservation. Topics covered included:


  • Late Medieval framing and the influence of Gothic architecture and illuminated manuscripts.

  • Northern Renaissance framing, including the use of imported materials such as ebony and baleen, and the development of ripple moulding technology. 

  • The influence of Baroque woodcarving during the Dutch Golden Age, including the development of Trophy and Auricular frame styles.

  • Development and influence of French frame styles, from Louis XIII to Louis XVI.

  • Revival styles of the nineteenth century, the development of new styles including Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco, and the development of new frame-making technologies and materials.

Discussion of technical aspects of frame-making and strategies for dating historic frames were covered in depth and served to enrich my understanding of this subject. The history of framing also is closely correlated with the history of architecture, decorative arts, and furniture, so this course dovetailed with many of my other studies and provided inspiration for further study. 





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