The Angel of the Annunciation and The Virgin
of the Annunciation by Alvaro Pirez d'Evora (early 1420s)
It's unusual for pre-19th century paintings to live in their original frames. According to Zaremba, 98% of Old Master paintings have "new" frames. Similarly, the vast majority of paintings in the Ringling's collection were purchased by John Ringling (or, later, the Museum) with the frames in which they are displayed. The economics simply don't allow for re-framing unless a frame has been damaged or is entirely inappropriate.
The frame is hinged, which allows it to close when the triptych is not on display. The back of the winged panels feature two grey grisaille paintings of The Virgin of the Annunciation. I suspect most visitors to the Ringling miss this component of the work.
Center image: Virgin and Child with Saints Peter, Paul,
John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and Two Angels
by Giovanni del Biondo (c. 1385-90)
Interestingly, these works were painted by three different artists. Altarpieces were often chopped up into discrete pieces of artwork in order to be more collectible. British art dealer Joseph Duveen created this triptych by combining these similarly themed works and framing them in a coherent style before selling it to John Ringling. (For a short read about Joseph Duveen's lasting legacy to the art world, click here.)
|The Annunciation by Giovanni Fracesco Barbieri (1628-29)|
These paintings were created in the 1620s to hang over an arched doorway. They were not, however, intended to be framed in this manner. In fact, the canvases are different sizes and were originally hung at different heights, with the Virgin slightly higher than the angel. The work was reframed in the 1980s in this controversial manner. The sheer surface area of the brightly gilded arch overpowers the quiet paintings. This is one work the Ringling would love to reframe (again) if it had the funding. (Nobody in our group stepped forward with the $100,000+ donation required.)
|Portrait of Lt. Philip Honywood|
by Gainsborough (1765)
Cartwright shared that, despite the damage, this is one frame she wouldn't want to replace even if the economics made it feasible. It just suits the painting too well. She noted that damage to a frame can affect the decision to lend a painting to another institution. The inevitable jostling involved in the process makes it too risky. On occasion, travel frames are created for painting -- at the expense of the borrowing institution.
|Close up showing frame damage|
A shout out is due to the Ringling's Education Department for continually bringing such interesting programming to its patrons. If you're in the area, there's a Walk and Talk on May 24 featuring new works on loan in the Museum's Center for Asian Art. I'm particularly looking forward to hearing about the Japanese Art Deco works.