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History of Picture Frame moulding

Today we see mouldings everywhere – in flats and art galleries, offices and churches, framed paintings and photographs. It became a familiar and popular part of decor. However, we do not think that it is originated neither today, nor in the last century, but in ancient times.

Being a single page in the history of art, the history of origin of decorative moulding is of great interest to researchers. In fact, the question is poorly investigated and opinions are often widely differing.

There are views of historians that the forerunner of modern moulding was a border which was used to design mosaics panel depicting mythical scenes on the walls of palaces and temples in the third millennium BC. Thanks such border, mosaics were better outlined on the general background. Even though moulding was inseparable from painting at that time, such framing of images in the ancient temples can be considered as the beginning of history of decorative mouldings.

In the Middle Ages, decorative border in books was the prototype of the modern moulding. It separated text from the rest content, as well as being decorated with ornaments, performed aesthetic function.

Since the beginning of the XI century, the Golden Age of Gothic, religion and the church become more important in society. Interior design, interior of temples and churches was developing too. New decorative elements appeared and all works were framed by woodcarving, which was performed by the author of icons.

However, many art critics tend to think that classic moulding appeared in the XIII century in Italy. Great masters of the time, painters Giotto and Cimabue, framed their works, decorating them with fret figures of saints.

Mouldings were originally designed to protect the canvas, but in Italy, in the center of art and painting, frame could not be purely functional, it was turned into a piece of art. In the XVI century in Italy moulding school was founded, and then art extended to Spain and France. Examples of classic mouldings come down to us in the Catholic medieval temples, in the French Louvre and in the Spanish Prado.

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