auricular style: frames

A centre for research & papers on frames in the Auricular style

Documenting developments in the taste for Auricular framing in England, 1620-80: an abstract by Jacob Simon

J Simon - image Van Dyck Self Portrait

Van Dyck (1599-1641), Self-portrait, c.1640-41, National Portrait Gallery, London

The taste for Auricular picture frames in England, indeed for carved and gilt frames in all styles, is one of the most extraordinary developments in the history of framing. How does one explain this sudden flowering from the 1620s onwards and why did it come about? How was the Auricular used and how and why did this style as used in England differ from the Continent? What did the style take from the Continent and what did it give back? And what led to its demise later in the 17th century?

While the influx of Italian pictures and to a lesser extent Italian picture frames were important to the style, the dominant influences on taste were Netherlandish and northern European. Access to engraved ornament, such as portrait prints, was one factor. Arguably of greater importance was the role played in London by artists, engravers and craftsmen with international experience. It was they who worked to fulfill the wishes of a group of prominent collectors and patrons at the court of King Charles I.

Influential players in the process included the architect Inigo Jones, the keeper of the royal collection Abraham van der Doort, artists such as De Critz, Gheeraerts, Mytens and Van Dyck, engravers from the De Passe family, sculptors such Maximilian Colt and Nicholas Stone and, of course, framemakers like Zachary Taylor and Henry Norris.

After the Restoration in 1660, the style developed into what we call Sunderland frames, known as ‘leatherwork’ at the time, with even more stylised ornament, which breaks into the surface of the painting. How far can we document the process by which a style of this kind becoming increasingly elaborate and is then replaced altogether as it ceases to be fashionable?


Jacob Simon is Research Fellow, National Portrait Gallery, and Editor of the Walpole Society’s annual journal for British art history, both voluntary positions. He served as Chief Curator at the National Portrait Gallery from 2001 until his retirement in 2011, and has occupied other museum positions. He served in a voluntary capacity on various National Trust committees, 1969-2002. He has organised exhibitions including English Baroque Sketches (1974), Thomas Hudson: portrait painter and collector (1977), Handel: a celebration of his life and times (1985) and The Art of the Picture Frame (1996). His research interests include four online resources on the National Portrait Gallery website, recording the lives and work of British artists’ suppliers, British picture framemakers, British picture restorers, and British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers.

Auricular ornament in Dutch architecture (1610-75): an abstract by Dr Pieter Vlaardingerbroek

P Vlaardingerbroek - image - Auricular Style Frames

Philips Vingboons (1607-78), drawing for a porch in the home of Joan Huydecoper, 1639

When speaking about Auricular ornament in Holland, most art historians refer either to works of art in silver in the first decades of the 17th century or to the revival of the style as can be seen in picture frames and furniture of the third quarter of that century. This revival is generally ascribed to the edition of prints from around 1650, made by the silversmiths Lutma and by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, son of an Amsterdam goldsmith. Their cartouches were a source of inspiration for many Auricular oeils-de-boeuf on façades alongside the canals, and we have the impression that this kind of ornament was taught to students during their formation in becoming craftsmen. A set of newly-discovered architectural study drawings seems to point in that direction. It is as if there is a absence of Auricular ornament between 1620-50.

Despite the existence of Auricular ornament in architecture, it hardly plays a rôle in scholarly publications about Auricular ornament. This is rather a pity, as datable examples of the style can be found in churches and public buildings. One of the most wonderful examples of Auricular ornament in Holland dates back to c. 1650. The magnificent choir screen of the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam is a combination of architecture and metalwork by Johannes Lutma. This screen can however not be disconnected from earlier examples in the 1640s and 1630s. We know of several works of around 1640 by the architect Philips Vingboons, in which Auricular ornament is used, both on façades and in interiors. There are several gravestones from the 1630s which also show a fully developed Auricular ornament.

Even in the work of the sculptor & architect Hendrick de Keyser Auricular ornament already existed from 1610 onwards. As a sculptor he also worked with bronze, which might explain the early use of such ornament, and its transfer to work in stone. Interestingly enough, he was born and educated in Utrecht, the centre of the Auricular style in the Netherlands; and even more interestingly, he was a close friend to Hendrick Goltzius, the renowned Haarlem painter, who had already designed prints with Auricular ornament in the 1590s. It is therefore not at all surprising that Haarlem probably has the earliest such ornament to be seen in Dutch architecture: Lieven de Key used it around the Haarlem coat of arms on the side façade of his Meat Hall (1601-03). And as a result of the friendship between Goltzius and De Keyser it is hardly surprising either that Auricular ornament found its way into architecture and the decorative arts in Amsterdam. Hendrick de Keyser often used it in his architecture, and his many sons – who were active in both architecture and sculpture – took it further into the third and fourth decades of the 17th century. Pieter de Keyser is responsible for some very early and datable examples of Auricular style in Amsterdam around 1620.

In short, in my paper I want to show many examples of early Auricular style, existing within the field of architecture. By doing so, I will try to prove that this style was used continuously during the period 1600-75.


Dr Pieter Vlaardingerbroek is an architectural historian, working at the Heritage Office of the City of Amsterdam and as an assistant professor at Utrecht University. In 2011, he published his PhD research on the Amsterdam Town Hall. In 2013, he wrote and edited books about the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam, the architect Adriaan Dortsman (1635-82) and the Amsterdam Canals.

Notes on the revival of the Auricular style for picture frames: an abstract by Christopher Rowell

C Rowell Lely Penitent Magdalen Kingston Lacy

Peter Lely (1618-80), The pentitent Magdalen, c.1650-55, Kingston Lacy, The Bankes Collection (National Trust)
The carved giltwood frame is in Auricular style but appears not to be the original, given the Revivalist feel of the ornament, exemplified in the mask in the centre at bottom and in other elements of the design, notably the cresting and the rather flat and partly incised carving.

The aim of this paper will be to discover more about the 19th century revival of the Auricular style in picture frames, concentrating on evidence for the Auricular revival in National Trust collections. The idea for this study derived from Kingston Lacy, Dorset, one of the country’s oldest picture collections, founded by Sir Ralph Bankes (1631?-77) in the 17th century. There are numerous 17th century paintings with frames in contemporary style influenced by Auricular ornament, including portraits by Van Dyck and Lely.

Other Auricular frames appear to be, at least partly, later in date, either aggrandized or made anew to the order of William Bankes (1786-1855), who commissioned the extensive remodelling of the house and the re-arrangement of the collection. This he did largely in absentia, having been outlawed for a homosexual act in a public place in 1841. Afterwards he based himself in Venice, but travelled elsewhere in Italy, and in France, commissioning fine and decorative art from contemporary artists and craftsmen. The family tradition that he visited Kingston Lacy secretly by night, disembarking from his yacht, has recently been proved to be true. He had travelled in Spain during the Peninsular War, building up an impressive collection of Old Masters to add to the family collection. His framing of pictures was related to his exotic tastes in interior decoration.

Subject to documentary research, it is hoped that discoveries will be made in the voluminous Bankes archive to substantiate what appears to be a characteristically precocious Auricular revival, in tandem with Bankes’s interests predominantly in French, Italian and Spanish revivalism. Bankes, an amateur artist, took a close interest in his commissions, working with the protagonists and providing designs. He is known to have commissioned the magnificent carved walnut frame of the Kingston Lacy ‘Raphael’ Holy Family, looted by the French from the Escorial and acquired by Bankes in colourful circumstances during the Siege of Pamplona, during the Peninsular War in 1813 (see Christopher Rowell, ‘The Kingston Lacy ‘Raphael’ and its Frame (1853-56) by Pietro Giusti of Siena’, The National Trust Houses & Collections Annual 2014, pp. 40-47, published in association with Apollo).


Christopher Rowell is the National Trust’s Curator of Furniture (2002-); Chairman of the Furniture History Society (2013-); and a member of the UK Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (2015-). He has published widely on country house collections, furniture and the display of art. He was editor and principal contributor to Ham House: 400 Years of Collecting and Patronage (Yale University Press, 2013), which was shortlisted for the 2014 Berger Prize for British Art History. He is currently contributing to a similar book on Hardwick Hall (YUP; forthcoming) and to the National Trust’s Mellon/Royal Oak Furniture Research and Publication Project, which aims to improve the 70,000 relevant entries in National Trust Collections online and to encourage the publication of research, including a book Furniture in National Trust Houses (YUP forthcoming). These categories will all include studies of picture frames.

Gilt leather: a creative industry ‘avant la lettre’: an abstract by Dr Eloy Koldeweij

E Koldeweij - image - Auricular Style Frames

Hans le Maire, Amsterdam gilt leather-maker (1576-1640), gilt leather panel, c.1635-40, detail with Auricular mascaron.

On 4 August 1628 Jacob Dircxz de Swart (before 1594-1641), gilt leather-maker in The Hague, was granted a patent by the States General of the Dutch Republic for fourteen years on a new production method by which it was possible to mass-produce gilt leather with relief patterns. These so-called embossed gilt leathers enjoyed an immediate public vogue. Due to the enormous demand De Swart asked his former companion Hans le Maire (1586-1641), who had moved in 1617 to Amsterdam, to share in his patent. This embossed gilt leather became highly fashionable, both in- and outside the northern Netherlands, not least because specially designed new patterns were introduced which fully exploited the high relief effects. Due to its success, others tried to join in this prosperous venture – one of them successfully: the Amsterdam merchant Maarten van den Heuvel (1585? -1661), who gained protection from the city government of Amsterdam.

The appearance of this embossed Dutch gilt leather was very different from the traditional flat version, the production of which was dominated by leather-makers from Spain and Italy, both of which countries had a long tradition of gilt leatherwork created under strong regulation by the guilds. The patterns of the flat gilt leathers from these countries closely followed traditional textile patterns.

As newcomers to the market, the Dutch gilt leather-makers managed to develop a completely new appearance for their embossed gilt leather. De Swart, Le Maire and Van den Heuvel approached some of the best contemporary artists to produce designs for their newly-developed technique. Amongst these were the painters Andries de Haen and Pieter Potter, the engravers Romeyn de Hooghe, Pieter Serwouters, Christoffel van Sichem sr and jr., and several silversmiths, including some of the best Dutch craftsmen of the period: Hans Coenraadt Brechtel, Michiel Esselbeeck, the brothers Joost and Johannes Lutma, Servaes Kock, François Leermans, Thomas Jacobsz en Elbert Jansz.

Luckily, some of the products from the workshops of Jacob Dircxz de Swart, Hans le Maire and Maarten den Heuvel still survive today. Quite remarkably, the Auricular style is well presented in the patterns of these gilt leathers. One extraordinary example is, for example, the gilt leather wall hanging with its Auricular ornaments from the commissioners’ house on the Leiden-Delft canal; this was delivered in 1649 by the workshop of the late Jacob Dircxz de Swart. Hans le Maire marked some of his gilt leathers with his initials ‘HLM’; one of these, a long panel, has an Auricular style pattern with fruits, flowers, festoons and putti. And from the workshop of Maarten van den Heuvel a gilt leather plaque survives with the portrait of the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf (1594–1632) in a an Auricular style cartouche, dated 1632.


Dr Eloy Koldeweij (1959) studied History of Art at Leiden University, the Netherlands, where he specialized in historic interiors. After his PhD research on gilt leather hangings, he worked in several museums, amongst others the Victoria & Albert Museum. Since 1997, he has been the senior specialist on historic interiors at the Cultural Heritage Agency of The Netherlands. He has published and lectured extensively on gilt leather, and on other topics specific to the historic Dutch interior, including wall-hangings, floors, and stucco & plasterwork. He is currently involved in several projects on interiors, amongst others on interior ensembles, and is also lecturing part-time at the University of Utrecht.

Between Amsterdam, Paderborn and Rome: a remarkable frame in the collections of the Louvre: an abstract by Dr Charlotte Chastel-Rousseau

C Chastel-Rousseau Nicolaes Roosendael

Nicolaes Roosendael (1636-1686), Ferdinandvon Fürstenberg, bishop of Paderborn, receiving the thesis in theology of the young Hendrick Damien of Amsterdam, 1669, Musée du Louvre

Among the vast collection of 17th century Dutch paintings in the Musée du Louvre, only one is surrounded by a frame in the Auricular style. This fact says much about the relatively low interest that these sculptural and highly decorative frames have raised among patrons, private collectors and curators in France, until today. Dutch ebonized frames, or French Louis XIII/Louis XIV gilded frames with a more restrained outline, have been preferred. However, the frame of the double portrait of Ferdinand von Fürstenberg, bishop of Paderborn, receiving the thesis in theology of the young Hendrick Damien of Amsterdam, signed and dated by the Dutch painter Nicolaes Roosendael (1636-1686), is a notable marker both for the development of the Auricular style and for the history of framing.

In 1930 Hortense, Princess Louis de Croÿ (1867-1932), donated the painting and its present frame to the Louvre. We are certain that this canvas of 1669 is still in its original frame, since the sculpted trophies in the middle of the bottom rail, and the episcopal insignia (mitre and crosier) at the top, all refer to the sitter Ferdinand von Fürstenberg (1626-1683), who is also identified by the inscription on the painted letter in the portrait. Although the precise circumstances of the creation of this carved and gilded frame, more than two metres high, do not seem to be documented, one can safely assume that the bishop commissioned both the portrait and its frame. Many questions remain unsolved for the moment, however; such as the identity of the craftsman or the workshop which executed this frame, or the reasons which led an eminent German prelate from a noble family in Westphalia to choose this luxurious and highly-crafted Dutch frame.

After briefly presenting the results of the technical examination of the frame, produced by the gilding and framing workshop in the Louvre, this paper aims to address the cultural and social environment in which this object was designed and created. It will, in particular, build on the rare biographical elements we hold about Ferdinand von Fürstenberg, the painter Nicolaes Roosendael, and their Roman Catholic connections, to try to understand better the dissemination of the Auricular style between Amsterdam, Paderborn and Rome.


Charlotte Chastel-Rousseau was educated at the Ecole du Louvre and at Université Paris-Sorbonne, and holds a PhD in art history on Royal monuments and public space in Great Britain and Ireland, 1714-1820 (2005, Université Paris I- Panthéon-Sorbonne). She has published work on 18th century British, French and Portuguese monumental sculpture, and has researched the circulation of artistic models and ideas in a European cultural space from the Renaissance to the 18th century.  She has been working since 2007 for the Musée du Louvre, where she was recently appointed head of framing in the Department of Paintings, with curatorial responsibilities for the collection of frames. She is currently conducting the inventory of more than 9000 frames, dating from the 15th to the 20th century, and is preparing an exhibition on the history of framing at the Musée du Louvre.

The Auricular frame depicted in paintings: an abstract by Lynn Roberts

Emmanuel de Witte Portrait of a family in an interior 1678 Alte Pinakothek Munich

Emmanuel de Witte (1615/17-91/92), Portrait of a family in an interior, 1678, Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Almost with the emergence of carved and gilded Auricular frames in the Netherlands, artists were including them in fashionable interiors: that is, from at least 1654, and possibly earlier. They form a single focal point in most of these representations, often amongst other frames which are made of ebony or ebonized. They may be set on an overmantel painting on a chimneypiece, on a smaller painting over a door, or in the centre of a wall. They do not all contain paintings, however; many hold looking-glasses of various sizes, from large canted wall-mounted examples to small toilet glasses. They share their single focal position with French giltwood frames in the current Louis XIII taste; and occasionally a view down an enfilade of rooms may reveal gilded frames in both Dutch and French patterns. Even the odd silvered frame may be spotted, or a frame painted to tone in with the prevailing scheme of a room.

These representations of painted Auricular frames become most frequent in the 1660s, tailing off through the 1670s. As an index of a fairly short-lived fashion, they are remarkably faithful, although it should be noted that they are not always or necessarily accurate depictions of actual frames, and that the same frame may turn up in different paintings by the same artist.

Like the contemporary costumes painted with such loving attention to texture, fabric and finish in the work of Metsu, De Hooch and Ter Borch, they are indices of wealth, modernity and fashion in the middle- and upper- class interiors they inhabit, in the same way as the embossed and gilded leather wall-hangings or silk carpets tossed over tables which accompany them.


Lynn Roberts is a picture frame historian who has worked as archivist, researcher and author at Paul Mitchell Ltd., for the frame section of the National Portrait Gallery website, and is now an occasional archivist at the National Gallery, London. She also founded, runs and edits the online magazine The Frame Blog.

Auricular Frames in the Netherlands: an abstract by Hubert Baija

Hubert Baija - image - Auricular Style Frames ed

Isaack Luttichuys, Portrait of a young lady, 1656, in original frame. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Auricular picture frames express a characteristic aspect of the Dutch Golden Age in the seventeenth century. Auricular wood-carvings originate in the work of the Utrecht silversmith Paulus van Vianen (born 1570), whose vocabulary is based on Italian influences, in combination with his own astute observations of shapes in nature. At the time of his early death – around 1613 – Paulus van Vianen worked in the service of Emperor Rudolph II in Prague. The Auricular style was further perfected by his older brother Adam van Vianen (c. 1568-1627) and by Johannes Lutma (1587-1669).

Adam’s son Christaen (c. 1600-1667) was also a silversmith and worked at the court of King Charles I of England. The Auricular style rapidly spread to decorative applications following Christaen van Vianen’s publication of his so called Constighe Modellen (three volumes of Auricular designs) in Holland around 1648/49. Other artists published their own Auricular model books around the same time, and sensuous Auricular frame designs became a fashionable companion to many a beautiful painting produced in the Dutch Republic.

In this presentation Auricular frames will be discussed in the context of different types of picture frame produced at the same time in the Netherlands. Technical analysis and stylistic characteristics of Dutch Auricular frames will be compared to related frames outside Holland, including in England, Germany and countries around the Baltic.

Dutch carved frames were generally made of limewood, and many of them have simply been thrown away after severe insect damage. Auricular frames were usually gilded, albeit in an unconventional way. This gilding technique often led to deterioration and refinishing, making it difficult for us to understand the initial appearance of these frames. With the help of material science we can now examine original preparations and finishes to provide support for conservation efforts, historical understanding and art appreciation.


Hubert Baija has worked at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam as a senior conservator since 1990, where he is responsible for the conservation of approximately 7000 historical picture frames. He has taught conservation, technical art history and frame history at the University of Amsterdam since 1997.  He gives annual workshops at the International Preservations Studies Center in Mount Carroll, IL, USA, since 2002. He has previously taught at the Australian Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Material in Melbourne, and the Metropolia University in Helsinki.

He has published articles on 17th century gilding techniques, on gilding conservation, and on the original framing of mediaeval panel paintings. He also participated in the English edition of Framing in the Golden Age by P.J.J. van Thiel and C.J. de Bruijn Kops. He is presently a PhD candidate in Conservation Science at the University of Amsterdam.

The Auricular style in Dutch furniture: an abstract by Professor Reinier Baarsen

R Baarsen - image - Auricular Style Frames

Pieter Hendricksz Schut after Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, Two side-tables, etching, 1655, Amsterdam. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

It is generally assumed that it took nearly half a century for the Auricular style, evolving in the goldsmith’s work of Paulus and Adam van Vianen in the early 1600s, to be adopted in furniture-making in Holland.  Gerbrand van den Eeckhout’s designs for tables, frames and the like, published in Amsterdam in the 1650s, are often interpreted as point of departure for this development, and indeed what is known of dated Auricular Dutch picture frames tends to support this view. However, close inspection of paintings depicting carved Auricular furniture, as well as some surviving examples of cabinetwork which may be attributed to the Amsterdam ebony-worker Herman Doomer (who died in 1650), suggest that avant-garde carved and veneered furniture featuring Auricular elements was made at least as early as the 1630s. This is corroborated by some rare designs by Crispijn van de Passe, published in 1621.

This assumption invites a closer look at the fantastic Auricular furniture depicted by Rembrandt and painters from his school in scenes set in Biblical or exotic environments. Normally considered pure figments of the artists’ imagination, these beds, thrones and other sumptuous objects may in fact reflect some extraordinary pieces that were actually made in Holland at the time. Rembrandt himself was closely involved with the elaboration of early Auricular frames, and took an active interest in the style in general. Some rare examples of Auricular furniture, executed in an exceptionally pure version of the idiom, should probably be dated considerably earlier than has normally been proposed. Thus a new point of view emerges, suggesting that furniture-making was treated as an important art-form by avant-garde patrons and artists from the beginning of the 17th century onwards.


Reinier Baarsen is Senior Curator of Furniture at the Rijksmuseum, where for twenty years he was Keeper of the former Department of Sculpture and Decorative Arts, and Professor of  the History of European Decorative Arts at Leiden University. He has written extensively on European decorative arts from the 16th to the 19th centuries and in 2013 published Paris 1650-1900: Decorative Arts in the Rijksmuseum. He is preparing an exhibition on the Auricular style in the Netherlands and beyond, to be held at the Rijksmuseum in 2018.

Anthropomorphism and zoomorphism in the Medici picture frames: an abstract by Dr Marilena Mosco

Marilena Mosco 12_Cornici_Medicee_Intero sm

Carlo Dolci (1616-86), St. John on Patmos, 1656, Palatine Gallery, Florence

In my paper I intend to illustrate the finest and most fanciful motifs in the frames belonging to the Medici’s collections (now divided between the Uffizi and the Pitti museums), which recall the taste for the grotesque and for zoomorphism. A series of slides will be projected, starting with two prints by Giovanni da Udine and Perin del Vaga, which will be followed by two drawings by Ammannati, all of them featuring grotesque human faces; and two photos of masks by Buontalenti and Andrea di Michelangelo Ferrucci.

As regards zoomorphism, the frame of Leopoldo’s portrait represents an interesting example of the genre, with two serpents’ heads, the tails of which become spirals spinning outwards to the edge. Even in the frame of Dosso Dossi’s Allegory, commissioned by Ercole d’Este and bought by Leopoldo, we can find heads of serpents with long tails winding around the entire profile. The same subject is found in the frame of Hercules at rest by Reni, where the manes of the lions’ heads are intertwined with the coils of two serpents. The source of inspiration can be found in a drawing representing serpents by Stefano della Bella, and in a small bronze of serpents by Pietro Tacca. The hydras by Tacca were also a source of inspiration for those at the corners of a frame containing a painting with St. John on Patmos by Dolci, which was carved by Cosimo Fanciullacci, a Florentine carver who worked for Giovan Carlo de’Medici.

The fountains by Pietro Tacca, illustrated in two drawings by Giambologna, also inspired a series of frames decorated with motifs that evoked the aquatic world, such as dolphins, dilated gills and scales, pointed fins and the spiky modules on the dorsal fin similar to those in Tacca’s fountains. The dolphin, a leitmotif like the serpent in the Medici’s iconographia, appears in two frames commissioned by Leopoldo for a couple of paintings, the Rest in Egypt by Dosso Dossi, probably made by the carver Giovanni Magni, and The Calumny of Apelles by Franciabigio, where an owl’s head is featured in the middle (reminding us of an owl sculpted by Giambologna).

Finally, in another frame made for the painting Adam and Eve by Bassano, the monster’s heads carved at the corners recall a winged monster sculpted by Tacca, whereas four heads – or bucrania – emerge at the centre of two sides, the base and the top of the frame; the bucrania, loved even by Michelangelo, confirm a strong connection with Renaissance sculpture and that fascination for the classical world which will last for many centuries.


An art historian specializing in the Baroque period (author of Itinerario di Firenze barocca, 1974), Marilena Mosco was previously director of the Museo degli Argenti at the Pitti Palace. She has produced many works on the collections of the Pitti, and curated numerous exhibitions there.

Since 1982 she has researched the relatively unexplored area of picture frames, curating exhibitions which include Antiche cornice italiane dal Cinquecento al Settecento, Tokyo, 1991; A Tuscan Renaissance frame from Palazzo Davanzati i in Florence, Accademia Italiana delle Arti e Arti Applicate, London, 1993-94; and Cornici barocche restaurate dai depositi di Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Pitti, 1998. The latter was followed by the creation of a special room devoted to frames in the Museo degli Argenti.

She participated in the 2002 frame conference Global embrace: celebrating 300 years of European frames, and in the 2004 conference From classicism to expressionism: a synthetic approach to the frame, both at New York University; and her publications include ‘La Galleria Palatina: il quadro e la cornice’, La città degli Uffizi, Firenze, 1982-83; ‘Cornici artistiche negli Appartamenti reali’ Appartamenti reali di Palazzo Pitti, 1993; ‘Cornici naturalistiche nelle collezioni medicee’, Il Giardino del Granduca, 1997; ‘Una cornice intagliata di Vittorio Crosten’, Opere in luce al Museo degli Argenti, 2002; ‘Due cornici a soggetto e una a piacere del Gran Principe Ferdinando’, Arte, collezionismo e conservazione: scritti in onore di Marco Chiarini, 2004; ‘Un disegno di Baldessare Volterrano per la cornice del Battesimo di Cristo di Paolo Veronese nella Galleria Palatina’, Disegno, Gudizio e Bella Maniera. Studi sul disegni italiano in onore di Catherine Monbeig Goguel, Milan, 2005. Her most recent publication is Cornici dei Medici, la fantasia barocca al servizio del potere: Medici frames/ Baroque caprice for the Medici Princes, Florence, 2007. See more, and here.

She lives and works in Florence.

The dissemination of the German Knorpelwerk /Auricular style in prints, woodcarving, stucco & painted wall decorations, 1620–1670: an abstract by Dr Daniela Roberts

D Roberts Painted cartouche sm Queen Esther 1615to20 Golden Hall Town Hall Augsburg

Painted cartouche with Queen Esther, 1615-20, Golden Hall, Town Hall, Augsburg

Through various processes of artistic diffusion in the Low Countries and France, an ornamental style called ‘Knorpel-&-Teigwerk’ or ‘Ohrmuschel-style’ developed, which alongside its use in crafts and architecture also appeared in elements of picture frames.

A specific type of German Auricular frame (such as the ‘Lutma’ or ‘Sunderland’ frame) never evolved, presumably due to the political fragmentation of German regions, the impact of the Thirty Years’ War and the strong influence of the Italian Baroque. Single sheet prints and pattern books for woodcarvers and carpenters, which played an important role in the process of diffusion, detail the specific application of ‘Knorpelwerk-ornaments’, including those for carved picture frames. As material evidence of this stylistic type of picture frame is lacking, my study aims to find examples not yet classified as part of that tradition.

In my paper I will reflect upon different the regional centres and stages of development of the German Auricular Style, in which the Protestant North stands out through its architectural shaped altarpieces and epitaphs. For the South of Germany I will focus on complex secular interior decoration, especially in artistic centres such as Augsburg and Nuremberg. Here an outstanding example of the Auricular in plasterwork, as well as in painted and carved cartouches, can be found in the Golden Hall of the Town Hall of Augsburg. Further, detailed consideration will be given to printed portrait frames, which produced a wealth of forms in the Knorpelwerk-style, from combined tendril and Auricular shapes to abstract material forms, fleshy or bony in appearance.

I will examine the structural composition of the ‘Ohrmuschel-Style’ by considering, in particular, the fluid boundaries between the Auricular and scrollwork, or the frequent blending with earlier ornamental styles and grotesques.

The chief object of this study is to acknowledge ‘Knorpelwerk’ as a tangible ornamental style for framing, and to demonstrate its aesthetic qualities and its capacity to link different media and different dimensions.


Daniela Roberts holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Leipzig and a postgraduate degree in Museum Curator Studies from the University of Munich. After working as an assistant curator at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, she became a lecturer at the Institute of Art History in Leipzig from 2008 to 2012. She then became curator for Fine Arts at the Municipal Museum in Brunswick. In April 2014 she started a new job as an assistant professor at the Institute of Art History of the University of Würzburg.

After completing her thesis on Hans Holbein’s Ambassadors, her research focused on emblematic art and music iconography. Strongly related to her museum work is her interest in collection history, a field she explores by studying framing policies as a measure of institutionalising art.

In respect to her long-term research on 18th and 19th century English architecture, she has currently started to work on her second thesis, Gothic Revival Framing.


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