Encradrement : The Art Of Framing A Picture


Every picture needs a frame to give it a complete look. A frame sets an aesthetic to the picture or painting and makes it look appealing to the human eye. Encradrement, or framing is the art of adding a decorative yet protective edging for a picture, photograph or even a painting.

A brief history of framing

The earliest ever frame was discovered in Egypt. It was a wooden frame of the portrait of the Fayum mummy in Hawara. The framing was often used by the Ancient Greeks to separate two settings in one picture. Around the twelfth to the thirteenth century, first wooden carved frames appear, as we know them today. These frames were made from a single piece of wood and it was into the shape of a tray where the painting was fitted. But soon it was realized that this method was expensive and a more cost-effective method of using four leaner slabs of wood came into the picture.

Throughout the upcoming centuries, in many European cultures, churches sported highly unmovable pieces of art with fairly large frames. In the 17th century in France, Encradrement was the center of interest of Louis XIII.

Materials used for a frame

The construction of a frame plays the most vital role in setting the aesthetic of the entire picture. There are various materials, sizes, shapes, and tools that are used to make the frame customized according to the photograph or painting.

Traditionally, these frames are made of wood. But as the times have passed, material like metal, glass, and plastics have been introduced. Metals like silver, aluminium or bronze are usually used whereas polystyrene is used for plastic frames. Acrylic sheets are used to give a glaze-like glow to the frame.

Plique-à-jour picture frames are known to be the most expensive frames in the world as they are made out of enamel.

Generally, picture frames tend to rectangular or square as photographs and paintings are most commonly made in those shapes. Circular or oval shapes are not uncommon in picture frames. Unusual shapes like stars, hearts, football-shaped are specially carved by a carpenter or sometimes, molded from wood pulp. Some frames go only around corners and some are designed in a way that adds depth into the picture.

Framing a picture is a skill that requires an artistic and aesthetic sense as well as the knowledge of the shaping, tools, and working of each material. Encradrement, or framing is a well-balanced mixture of the soft-skill of understanding art and the hard-skill of physically manifesting it into reality.

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