Framing (and Re-Framing) Walter J. Phillips Botanical Woodblock Prints

These are two color woodblocks by the eminent Canadian artist Walter J. Phillips (1884-1963). Phillips’s first works in printmaking were etchings, but a love of color led him to take up woodcuts. We’ve had the pleasure of framing several Phillips prints for California Historical Design, and, while the artist’s interest in color has always been noticeable, it’s especially evident in these two 1928 botanicals. In sympathy with the simple beauty of the prints, we wanted their presentations to be simple but nonetheless alive to the images. We matted both works in plain tan 4-ply mats with frames in oiled walnut with touches of linseed oil paint to honor Phillips’s affinity for color.

“Zinnias,” which is 10″ x 10-1/4″, is in a 3/4″ wide frame very lightly chamfered, with a carved radius near each corner echoing lines in the print; and those corners tinted blue-grey to match the leaves. (“Zinnias” is available for purchase, here.)


Re-framing Walter J. Phillips’s Tulips print

Phillips’s print, “Tulips,” 1928, (9-1/2″ x 12-1/4″) came to us in a conventional production frame. Taking my cue from the brown tones in the print and the shape of the vase “framing” the flowers, I settled on a 1″ wide cove molding in walnut, then celebrated the color in the print with a blue-green painted slip to match the leaves and complement the red and pink blossoms. (“Tulips” is available for purchase, here.)

Go to the excellent website dedicated to Walter J. Phillips…

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