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The History of Picture Frames

You probably see them every day, but do you know the history behind picture frames? The concept dates back to ancient Egypt and Greece, where artists painted “framing borders” on walls, paintings, and pottery. But while one of the earliest physical picture frames was found in an Egyptian tomb, wooden frames as we’d recognize them today didn’t really come around until the 12th and 13th centuries. These early frames were hand-carved and primarily used in Churches. For many years, artwork was made frame-first (meaning that the frame was crafted first and then the artwork was created within its borders), and both art and frame were often fixed in place or even part of a building’s architecture. But over time, displaying artwork in homes became fashionable, so moveable frames began to appear. Frames themselves were considered art and were often very intricate and well-thought-out. They also served as a status symbol; the more important the person commissioning the art was, the more expensive the frame materials would be. Over time, these intricate and expensive hand-made picture frames gave way to the mass-produced frames that we are familiar with today.

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