Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 69

The Bridgewater Collection and its picture frames
The Bridgewater Collection and its picture frames
Fig. 9 / Peter Lely, Countess
of Middlesex (BG288), in
English frame of ca. 1720,
UK, Private Collection.
Fig. 10 / Claude Lorrain,
Moses and the Burning
Bush (BG41), in French
frame of ca. 1735, UK,
Private Collection.
Fortunately, however, this historical evidence, written
and visual, can be complemented by the frames
themselves, a rather large number of which have
survived the vicissitudes of dislocation, war, and
the salesroom. A great majority, in fact, of the exBridgewater pictures retain to this day the frames in
which they were displayed in Cleveland House and
then Bridgewater House in London. It is true, as
has already been implied, that there was a regular
turnover of frames while they were in the collection.
On the other hand, in contrast to the picture frames
in many collections, especially in public collections,
such replacements were typically brand new, made
specifically for their paintings, and were not old frames
made for other paintings, and adapted for reuse. This
circumstance makes it logical to analyze a selection
of the most interesting and best documented of the
Bridgewater frames in approximately chronological order.
As a result of the various reframing campaigns
undertaken by the duke and his heirs, relatively few of
the existing frames from the Bridgewater Collection
predate his main period of activity as a collector from
the mid-1790s to his death in 1803. One of the few
exceptions is the English frame of ca. 1720, based on a
Louis XIV pattern, of an inherited family portrait, the
Countess of Middlesex by Peter Lely (BG288; fig. 9).7 In the
case, however, of another work inherited by the duke
from his father the 1st Duke, Claude’s Metamorphosis
of the Shepherd Apulus (BG103), while the present frame
is identifiable as of French provincial craftsmanship
of ca. 1670, this cannot be the one that contained
the painting when it was acquired in 1722,8 since it
shows clear evidence of having been applied, with
adjustments, in about 1830, around the time of the
inheritance of the collection by Lord Francis.
Two other Claudes, Ezekiel Weeping in the Ruins of Tyre
(BG11) and Moses and the Burning Bush (BG41; fig. 10),
have early matching frames of particular interest.
The paintings were acquired by the duke in 1799
from Edward Bouverie, whose maternal grandfather
Bartholomew Clarke had apparently imported them
from France;9 and they retain Régence frames,
datable to ca. 1725.


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