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Conserving the frame for 'On the Fringe of the Desert', c1884 by Frederick Goodall

Before conservation

old frame with the painting removed, with damaged edges and lots of gilt missing

The frame before conservation

The frame in which this painting had hung for many years was beginning to show signs of its age. Although generally in good condition, it did need some cosmetic and structural work doing to ensure its continued use.

Label with text 'Tho.s Agnew & Sons. Manchester, 14 Exchange Street, Liverpool, Exchange Art Gallery, Dale Street. London. Old Bond Street Galleries. Piccadilly.

Original supplier’s label on the rear of the frame

This style of frame was made popular by the artist George Fredrick Watts during the late 19th century. The design was based on an Italian style and became accepted as a standard British frame by the 1880s. This particular frame was made by Thos. Agnews & Sons, of Liverpool. It still bears the supplier’s label on the rear of the frame. It measures 191 x 104.5cm.

Detail of the corner of the frame showing damage

Open mitre joints and damage to the frame’s decorative pattern

The main problems with the frame were cracks and losses to the gilded decorative pattern around the frame. The mitred corner joints were also slightly open and there was damage to the gesso that was used to coat the wooden base of the frame. There was only about 8cm of undamaged repeat pattern in any one place on the frame. The gesso along the outside of the bottom rail was also found to be in poor condition, and this had led to the severe losses of the layers above it. Some of the gilding was also damaged in various places on the frame.

Find out what treatment was needed to repair these problems.