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

by The Frame Blog

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.