History of Empire Picture Frames

Empire Frames were for the first time produced in the early 19th century in France. They are part of the major art movement called Empire style that developed during the French Empire periods under Napoleon. The previous style was Neoclassicism which shares in common with Empire style much of the same kind of decorations and ornaments. The style was created under the concept to idealize and surround with power France and its Emperor Napoleon.

Before Empire style frames, Neoclassical frames were the protagonist of the scene. The most evident difference between the two kinds of style frames is given from the finishing of the wood. During Neclassicism craftsmen used very much white lacquer to paint and decorate frames and furniture. During the Empire style, they use wood in its natural color therefore use just a bit of shellack to make the wood appear brighter and redder.

While Empire frames are finished in gold ornaments on flat or round surfaces of bright redwood, Neoclassical picture frames are finished in gold ornaments and white flat surfaces. The decorations are pretty much the same while the section profiles change a bit because Neoclassical recall more the Renaissance art while Empire decorations have their own very typical forms.

A very specific shape for Empire Frames

Empire Picture Frames have a very typical shape that makes them very much recognizable between the huge variety of antique picture frames. You can see the typical shape on top of this page watching our model #047. That is a fine reproduction of an Empire model frame that Laboratorio Federici realizes usually for early 19th century paintings. Clicking on the picture above you will reach a page with all the details of the frame including a profile sketch showing the specific form we mean to point out.

Our reproduction #047 is probably the most common Empire style frame available in the market of antique frames. Between 1800 and 1815 there was been a massive production of them to frame very important Empire paintings. So the France state, during the first French Empire, emphasized its strength using majestic paintings. Many of them representing Napoleon in its power.

A massive production

In the global market are now available plenty of Empire Picture Frames. Because they are quite recent and because there was been a massive production of them they’re easy to find. A rising bourgeoisie class used to buy paintings because they needed to show their strengthening. This could be the major cause of the massive production of Empire frames.

Even if Empire style frames are easy to find it is not easy at all to find an original one perfect for your painting. You can cut an authentic frame. It’s easy to do. With its almost smooth and curve surface it’s not too difficult to recreate the right size for an antique painting. But we think it’s not a good practice to cut an original frame. We rather advise our customers to order a fine Reproduction of Empire picture frame made with particular care.

Know more about our antique picture frames.