Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 72



70
The Bridgewater Collection and its picture frames
But this may have been simply because for
the duration of the exhibition the frames were
temporarily removed for what was obviously a very
crowded hang; in fact it is only to be expected that
the pictures were transported to London within their
frames, as a way of affording them greater protection
while in transit. As will be seen below, there is visual
evidence to show that in the lifetime of the duke
many of the Orléans pictures, especially the larger
ones, retained the frames in which they had been
displayed at the Palais Royal.
Nevertheless, the long list of November 1800 itemizes
only twenty-four existing frames on which work
had to be done, and as many as seventy-two that
Aubé had made himself. Of these new frames,
the largest had a perimeter of seventeen foot eight
inches (in other words, its painting measured about
three and half by four and half feet); most were
much smaller, and he charged the relatively small
sum of six shillings per foot for the design. From
this it is possible to infer that these receipts refer to
the reframing of a high proportion of the smaller
Fig. 12 / Jakob van Ruisdael,
Panoramic Landscape
(BG266), in English frame of
ca. 1800 (by Peter Aubé?),
UK, Private Collection.
Fig. 13 / Nicolaes Berchem,
Landscape with a Bridge
(BG243), in English frame of
ca. 1800 (Peter Aubé?), UK,
Private Collection.
The Bridgewater Collection and its picture frames
paintings from the Orléans and the Gildemeester
collections, and that the simplicity of their designs,
without projecting ornament, was chosen to allow
for a close hang. Yet this consideration was not
universally applied, as is implied by the reference
to “Brass Ornaments” – perhaps family insignia
of some kind – on two of the twenty-four existing
frames that were retained. The fact that many of
the existing frames are specified as French lends
support to the inference that Aubé was himself a
recent refugee from France and was not – as might
otherwise be supposed – a native Englishman of
Huguenot descent.
A final deduction that may be made from Aubé’s
receipts is that around the second half of 1800, towards
the end of the creation of the first Bridgewater Gallery,
he was made responsible not only for restoring the
frames of several of the older paintings in the house
– perhaps family portraits – but also for providing
frames for mirrors and for gilding console tables and
a clock. All this confirms that for the duke he was a
highly trusted craftsman.
FRAMES FOR THE FIRST BRIDGEWATER GALLERY:
STYLE AND CRAFTSMANSHIP
Although the receipts of 1797 to 1801 do not refer
to any specific painting for which a frame was made,
there survive a number of frames from the Bridgewater
Collection that may be plausibly identified with some
of the ninety or so new frames that Aubé provided for
the duke in these years. The style and craftsmanship
of these frames imply that their maker was trained in
pre-Revolutionary France in the classicizing style of
Louis XVI, while at the same time indicating that they
were made in the years around 1800 in London. In
other words, while they show a visual taste and technical
discipline that may be associated with a French training,
they are made of pine with composition ornament, local
materials that were much more economical than the
carved oak habitually used in eighteenth-century France.
The frames that may be attributed to Aubé follow two
main patterns. The first is of the above-mentioned type
of ca. 1775 represented by that seen on Terborch’s Singing
Practice (BG198; see fig. 11). Examples include the frames of
71
Ruisdael’s Panoramic Landscape (BG266; fig. 12), apparently
acquired by the duke at the Warwick sale in 1800, and
of Cornelis Dusart’s Scene in a Tavern (BG170). The other
main pattern, designed around the same time for paintings
destined for Versailles, is represented by Berchem’s
Landscape with a Bridge (BG243; fig. 13), which the duke
bought at the Calonne sale in London in 1795.17 Both the
“Terborch” and the “Versailles” patterns are Louis XVI
in style, as can be seen by their moulding profiles. The
“Terborch” moulding is enriched on all available surfaces,
but the more important elements of ornament are applied
to the derivations. These include the lotus leaf on the sight
edge, the twisted reel and pearl behind the frieze, and the
guilloche on the top edge. The same approach was applied
to the “Versailles” pattern, another example of which, but
using shells at the corners, is represented by the frame of
Rubens’s Mercury Bearing Psyche to Olympus (BG174; fig. 14).
This was one of the works acquired by the duke from the
Gildemeester collection in June 1800, and it was evidently
made to replace the earlier frame seen in Lelie’s view (see
fig. 1) immediately after its arrival in London. From all this
it is evident how successfully Aubé was able to distil the
Louis XVI style and apply it to a new collection.

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