Framing Charles Rollo Peters

Known as “The Poet of the Night,” Charles Rollo Peters (1862-1928) was surely California’s best known limner of nocturnes. He lived in Monterey, and especially enjoyed painting his local region and its vernacular architecture. His preference for nocturnes seems to suit the quiet harmony these buildings have with the land. As a tonalist, he loved the low tonal contrast the night provided. We just had the privilege of framing these two oil paintings on canvas by Peters, and did our best to honor his concern for harmony.


Charles Rollo Peters, untitled, undated (Monterey adobe). Oil on canvas, 8″ x 12″.

The first piece, untitled and undated, is 8″ x 12″, and is framed in a 2-1/2″ slope based on our No. 238, which the customer took to instantly upon spotting the corner sample. My feeling, though, was that, while the overall slope form was exactly right, it was too refined and that, specifically, the fine bead did not relate to the loose and rustic feel of the painting. So I adapted that design by widening and carving both the outer cove and the bead.


Charles Rollo Peters, “Monterey Adobe at Night,” ca. 1918. Oil on canvas, 13″ x 16″.

“Monterey Adobe at Night,” ca. 1918, 13″ x 16″, is in our hand carved No. 320 CV—3″ in quartersawn white oak with Dark Medieval Oak stain. I designed it to go with the loose painting style and rustic spirit of the painting. In addition to enhancing the perspective, the scoop echoes the sweep of the road, and the bevel echoes the roof.

While the dark frame is absolutely necessary for putting the eye on dark paintings like this (a Google image search for “Charles Rollo Peters” turns up many examples of his nocturnes framed in blind obedience to the gilt frame convention), a gilt slip used in each case gives proper emphasis to the painting, while picking out the light that Peters characteristically placed in his subjects’ windows.

I’d offer these as two basic examples of simple frame designs which are nonetheless specific to and alive to the particular characteristics of the pictures they serve.

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