MONTREAL.- Eli Wilner & Company
recently completed the re-framing of Evening on the Terrace (Morocco), 1879, by Jean Joseph Benjamin-Constant, 49 x 78 inches, in the collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. A period-appropriate Eli Wilner replica of a 19th century salon style frame was chosen to compliment the painting. The frame selection was based on an archival photograph provided by the museum that showed what is believed to be the lost original frame for the painting. Like the original, the chosen frame has a laurel leaf and berry element on the top rail, an acanthus leaf cove, incised frieze design, and passages of lambs tongue and bead ornamentation, and is nearly 11 inches wide. The exhibition Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism: Benjamin-Constant in His Time was on view at the Musée des Augustins, Toulouse until earlier this month, and opens January 31 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition will remain on view in Montreal until May 31, 2015.
Skilled artisans at the Eli Wilner studio created the Benjamin-Constant frame using the same materials and techniques that would have been used to create the original. A wooden substrate was constructed in several pieces to provide structural support for the finely-detailed cast ornament. Once the cast ornament had been applied, the surface was prepared with gesso to seal the surface and create a smooth, porous layer about 1/16th of an inch thick. The frame surface was then painted with a liquid clay called bole, and gold leaf was carefully applied. Once the entire surface had been gilded and allowed to dry, it was rubbed with cotton to achieve a lustrous matte surface and burnished with an agate stone in certain areas to achieve the correct effect. The surface was then patinated so that the completed frame would be virtually indistinguishable from an original 135 year old object.
Orientalist art emerged shortly after Napoleons Egyptian campaign in 1798, and it flowered as the century progressed as artists traveled to the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa to paint landscapes and scenes of daily life. The French painter Jean-Léon Gérôme exemplifies the style at perhaps its most refined, incorporating his meticulous attention to detail and extraordinary skill as a figure painter.
The appeal of the artworks and frames from this period has proven timeless, and the finest examples continue to be sought by collectors from around the world.