Escaping the Old Year

As a frame-maker, I appreciate the wonderful trompe-l’oeil painting “Escaping Criticism” (1874) by Pere Borrell del Caso (Spain, 1835-1910) showing a young boy apparently of the peasant or artisan class climbing out of a conventional, academic-looking gilt frame. Exactly what the Catalan artist was aiming at isn’t completely clear, but given that he was a cabinetmaker, the son of a carpenter and a rebel against the class-laden academic rules of his time, it’s not hard to guess. (More here…) The painting was done not too many years after Manet’s controversial “The Fifer” , which, as a portrait, drew fire for depicting not an aristocrat or nobleman but an ordinary and unknown figure, “treated like a grandee of Spain.” Perhaps Borrell del Caso had this controversy in mind, simultaneously weighing in on it and pre-empting any critics who might turn on him. Although very different pictorial treatments, both paintings challenged notions of suitable subject matter for painting, and more largely the social place and purpose of art.Caso+~+Escaping+Criticism-blogA few months ago when we finished the big frame shown below for a significant early 20th century European landscape painting that would normally go in a gilt frame, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of Eric, Trevor and me “escaping” in the manner of Borrell del Caso’s mischievous lad. Okay, the analogy doesn’t quite work. Maybe Borrell del Caso’s boy wouldn’t feel compelled to escape a humbler oak frame, a real piece of woodworking such as a cabinetmaker like Caso might put together for him!

Anyway, seems a suitable image for the first work day entering the new year — and leaving the old year behind!

The framed painting? Peder Monsted’s “La Punt Near St. Moritz.” But that’s another blog entry — coming soon!

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