Mahogany on Mahogany: Framing James Hamilton

The earliest independent paintings were made on solid wooden panels with the edges of the panels raised to frame the image. Frame and painted panel were one. Today such thoroughly unified presentations are rare among painters, but the ideal of harmony remains exemplary, and occasionally a painting on wooden panel will come in and present us, as makers of handcrafted hardwood frames, with the opportunity to achieve the unity of frame and panel that evokes some of the harmony and unified effect of the first paintings. Hamilton-Atlantic-City-Back-view-web800

This 1874 view of Atlantic City by the significant maritime painter James Hamilton (1819-1878) is just such an example. It’s painted on a mahogany panel, which is actually exposed at the bottom right portion of the painting. (At right is shown the back of the painting. The writing you might be able to just make out includes the signature and “March 1874,” and the inscription by the artist, “painted for WW Harkness.”) We made the frame—our No. 348.02—2-1/2″—in Honduran mahogany to match. A pale gold slip is added for emphasis.


James Hamilton (1819-1878), (view of Atlantic City), 1874. Oil on mahogany board, 12″ x 15″. Framed in No. 348.02, in Honduran mahogany (Chestnut stain) with pale gold mahogany liner.

Below is another Hamilton in a frame more typical of the day. Considered from the standpoint of aiming for harmony, the dark mahogany frame is considerably more suitable.H0016-L14044916

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