One of the earliest examples of a solid frame was located in an Egyptian tomb; it is thought to be dated around 50-70 AD and is crafted from wood. Both the frame and the portrait it held were perfectly preserved.
It was during the 12th and 13th centuries that hand carved wooden frames started to make an appearance. These types of small panel frames were commonly used in churches and made to separate various scenes and paintings. They were originally made from a single piece of wood, but this was a very expensive method. Due to this it wasn’t long before mitred stripes were pieced together to construct the frames. It wasn’t until the 14th and 15th century, during the Italian renaissance, that frames started appearing inside the home. By this time, alter frames had begun to be crafted - these were very elaborate an artistic, often incorporating gemstones, gold and mosaic inlays. Not long after this it became common for those who had wealth and status to have religious and portrait paintings commissioned, bringing art and frames into the private home. The value and importance of art was starting to be realised and with this shared enthusiasm came the necessity to create lighter ‘mobile frames’. It was at this point (somewhere between 1515 and 1547) that frames began being made by furniture builders rather than artists and sculptors.
As time progressed, frames became commonplace within the home and, as to be expected, the style of fames tended to adhere to the general design fashions of the periods. Silver photograph frames became highly popular with the middle and upper class as they showcased their wealth. As silver is such a hard wearing and resilient material there are many examples of antique silver photograph frames that we are still able to enjoy today.