Frame Work Honour and Ornament in Italian Renaissance Art Alison Wright

Publication date:
12 Mar 2019
Yale University Press
352 pages: 254 x 190mm
220 color illus.
Sales territories:

“My husband Jan finished me on 17 June 1439. . . .  My age was 33 years.” So speaks Margaret van Eyck from the frame of her portrait. This painted inscription honors its maker Jan van Eyck, even as it blurs the distinction between living subject and painted double. Frame Work, an in-depth study of paintings, sculpture, and manuscript illumination in their varied social settings, argues that frames and framing devices are central to how Renaissance images operate. In a period of rapid cultural change, framing began to secure the very notion of an independent “artwork,” and reframings could regulate the meaning attached to works of art—a process that continues in the present day.
Highlighting innovations in framing introduced by figures such as Donatello, Giovanni Bellini, and Jean Fouquet, this original book shows how the inventive character of Renaissance frames responds to broader sociopolitical and religious change. The frame emerges as a site of beauty, display, and persuasion, and as a mechanism of control.

Alison Wright is head of the History of Art Department at University College London.

 “[A] beautifully illustrated and learned book” —Nicholas Penny, Apollo Magazine

"By their very nature frames have a history, and the lasting value of this scholarly, thoughtful, and deeply innovative book lies not only in revealing the energy and agency, in short the work of the frame, in the social and material life of fifteenth-century Italy, but also in alerting us to the value of examining the role of the frame in other periods and contexts. Art history should take note."—Paul Duro, the Art History Journal