Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fayum Portraits Are the Original Picture Frames

Frames have existed since the second century B.C. The first “frames” were lines artists drew around Etruscan wall paintings and those around Egyptian portraits of the dead painted on wood. These paintings, known as Fayum mummy portraits, have wooden and fabric frames around them. Archaeologists and scholars speculate they were displayed in the households of the deceased before being placed on the mummies.

Fayum portraits are considered the oldest modernist paintings and the origins of framed art. Artists created images of the deceased using a technique known as encaustic painting, which consisted of using colored pigment mixed with heated beeswax. The portraits would sometimes extend onto the cloth wrappings.

Artists painted the majority of the portraits on panels or boards made from different imported hardwoods, including cedar, cypress, oak, lime, and sycamore. They cut the wood into thin panels and smoothed the pieces. Upon finishing the panels, they would set the portraits into layers of wrapping that enclosed the bodies, surrounding them with bands of cloth. This gave a window-like opening effect through which faces of the deceased could be seen, essentially framing the portraits.

Looking for the perfect frames to complete your images? Check out the great selection of metal and wood frames from American Frame, including these on-sale offerings!

Ramon Keys works in the showroom here at American Frame. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Two-Dimensional Studies from Bowling Green State University with an emphasis in graphic design. Ramon resides in Toledo, Ohio, and in his free time enjoys watching sports, traveling, cooking, painting, and baking cupcakes. 


  1. Your blog is great for worthy knowledge Ramon ! Remarkable observations on picture frames. Thanks for giving the valuable information. Well, I'm a framer by profession so I found your blog the most worthy for more framers like me. Thanks!!

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  3. Great images. Can surely be a good addition to your house if you are having some home remodeling.

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