The Frame has a Story to Tell

The exhibition in the Liechtensteinmuseun in Vienna illustrates the phenomenon of the frame in context with furniture, metalwork, majolica, textiles and porcelain as well as drawings and engravings of ornamental motifs together with miniature paintings in precious settings. Some of the gilded or painted frames are being exhibited with the paintings for which they were created, and the exhibition is rounded off by bronze or terracotta reliefs in their original frames. The exhibition focuses on the theme of the paintings contained by frames of this kind and the use within the context of how galleries were hung in the past and their continued relevance in modern-day museum presentation. In 1705 Giovanni Giuliani was commissioned by Prince Johann Adam Andreas I von Liechtenstein to create the frames for the Decius Mus cycle by Peter Paul Rubens with their powerful, elaborately carved and gilded crests. At Feldsberg, the central residence of the Liechtenstein family in southern Moravia, papier mâché frames were made and painted in colours or gilded, evidently with the aim of displaying the holdings of the picture gallery there in as impressive (and no doubt economical) a manner as possible. The museum oday invests much effort and expense not only in the acquisition of new works but also in their presentation, one of the most important aspects of which is their frames. Over the past few years important examples of Renaissance and Baroque frames have been added to the Collections. Since its reopening in 2004, the museum has followed this line, attaching the highest importance to the framing of its paintings: the framing and display of a work enhances its effect and intention, thus facilitating its reception by the onlooker.