The Artful Frame

January 27, 2014
Index Magazine

The Artful Frame

Frame conservator Allison Jackson water gilding the frame liner for Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait Dedicated to Paul Gauguin

What frames our great works of art can make a big difference in how we perceive the works themselves. This is why our Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies has frame conservator Allison Jackson on its team.

Jackson recently worked with curators Elizabeth Rudy and Stephan Wolohojian on renewing, and sometimes even replacing, frame liners (the part that appears between the painting and the outer frame) on paintings in the Wertheim Collection. Many liners were covered in linen that was stained and discolored with age. With the help of preparator Steve Mikulka, Jackson built, gessoed, and water gilded new liners with gold leaf. She then used various abrasives and washes of paint to “age” the liners.

We’re sure that visitors will appreciate the results: the rich green in Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait Dedicated to Paul Gauguin (1888) and bright yellow in Matisse’s Still Life with Apples (1916) are no longer restrained by the dull linen, but glow next to their gold-leafed liner.