Framing a Chris Jorgensen Oil Painting of Yosemite

San Francisco painter Christian August Jorgensen (1860–1935) was primarily known for his watercolors (we have two in the Portfolio, here and here), but this is a very impressive 42″ x 72″ oil painting of Yosemite Valley. It was done around 1910 when the park was becoming well known and seeing and real increase in visitors. We can only imagine the awe experienced by folks like Jorgensen—a true experience of the sublime which so captivated painters of his time. Most would have never seen anything quite so dramatic as this (although as a native of Norway, Yosemite’s soaring cliffs might well have reminded him of home).

C. Jorgensen, “Yosemite Valley” before re-framing

We’ve just added this spectacular piece to the Portfolio. We set the painting in a 6″ wide custom Compound Aurora No. 1100 CV with carved chamfered sight edge + hand carved No. 15 CV cap molding, in quarter sawn white oak (Medieval Oak stain) with carved gilt liner (18 kt pale gold leaf). This painting would have been a joy to frame in any case, but was especially rewarding since we were able to liberate it from a really mediocre modern gold frame that did absolutely nothing for it (see “before” shot at right; view the before-and-after on our page Fixing “a Very Prevalent Error”). The 6″ wide Compound Aurora frame (it’s a mortise-and-tenon flat with a mitered cap molding) we made for it was inspired by the wonderful carved woodwork in the Ahwahnee Hotel at the Park. Simple geometric patterns articulate the corners and centers of the frame and the corners of the gilt liner. The frame was built up to over 2″ thick to take it to the wall and unify it with its architectural setting.

Christian Jorgensen (1860-1935), “Yosemite Valley,” 1910. Oil on canvas, 42″ x 72″.

Detail showing the carving that articulates the corners. The chamfer on the mortise-and-tenon flat is also carved. Note the diagonally oriented plug at the corner. It’s inlaid over a dowel that pins the mortise-and-tenon joint.

Angled view of corner shows the depth of the frame (over 2″). The steps relieve the back, making it less severe than if it went straight back.

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