Founded in 1907, Lowy is recognized as the country's leading fine art services firm.

Conserving Ornamentation on Antique Picture Frames

July 20, 2023

2 minute read

Conserving Ornamentation on Antique Picture Frames

Antique picture frames hold significant historical and artistic value, and their preservation is crucial to maintain their worth. Restoration or conservation treatments can help revitalize these frames, ensuring their structural stability and aesthetic appeal. At Lowy, a renowned establishment specializing in frame restoration, a meticulous step-by-step process is followed to ensure the preservation of antique picture frames while adhering to the highest conservation standards.

1: Structural Stabilization

The first step in restoring an antique picture frame is to address any structural issues it may have. Lowy’s team of skilled artisans carefully examines the frame, identifying any weaknesses, cracks, or loose joints. These areas are then reinforced and stabilized using specialized techniques and materials, ensuring the frame’s durability for years to come.

2: Repair and Replacement of Missing Ornamentation

Antique frames often suffer from missing or damaged ornamentation which can detract from their overall beauty and value. At Lowy, skilled artisans meticulously repair or replace any missing ornamentation to restore the frame’s original charm. This involves carefully matching the style and design of the missing elements and utilizing techniques such as hand-carved wood or newly cast composition ornaments, identical to the original ones.

3: Treating Flaking Gesso and Gesso Losses

Gesso, the traditional ground, or preparation, for gilding frames, is highly sensitive to changes in climate and can shrink, flake, or crack if exposed to cycles of excessive heat, cold, humidity, or dryness. Lowy’s artisans are experts in treating such issues, meticulously addressing flaking gesso and repairing gesso losses. Through careful treatment, the gesso is stabilized, preserving the beauty and stability of the frame’s surface.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

The final steps of the restoration process involve paying careful attention to the frame’s finish. After a thorough cleaning to remove layers of dirt, grime , and any previous touch ups of bronze paint, Lowy’s experts take care in matching newly gilded restorations to the original gilding and patina. The color and karat of the newly applied gold leaf are selected to be harmonious with the original gilding and patina. The artisans then painstakingly duplicate the antique patina, ensuring that the frame retains its authentic appearance and character.

Preserving the value and historical integrity of antique picture frames requires specialized knowledge and skillful craftsmanship. Lowy’s restoration process follows a detailed approach, encompassing structural stabilization, repair and replacement of missing ornamentation, treatment of flaking gesso, and careful matching of patina. By adhering to the highest conservation standards, Lowy ensures that antique picture frames not only retain their beauty but also their historical significance for generations to come.