A Segantini Sparks a Frame War
|Before and after: Giovanni Segantini's Spring in the Alps, 1893|
In April I noted that the Getty Museum had replaced the artist-designed gilt frame of Giovanni Segantini's Spring in the Alps with a white modern frame. In The Frame Blog, Lynn Roberts argues against the change: "it is a disgrace that its present owner (an otherwise reputable museum) should be so careless of its overall history and context as to remove what should be an inseparable element of the gesamtkunstwerk—the overall work of art, designed by the artist and decorated with motifs which expand upon the content of the painting."
|Detail of narcissus blossoms on original frame|
The motifs in question are small reliefs of narcissus blossoms, suited to the title season and mountain range. While the narcissi are subtle, they relate to more sculptural botanical motifs in other Segantini frames of the 1890s, such as the Triptych of Nature in the Segantini Museum, St. Moritz.
|Frame of Giovanni Segantini's Nature, 1897-99. Segantini Museum, St. Moritz|
Roberts links to my first post on the new Getty frame but is slightly confused—I have no connection with LACMA(!) LACMA's blog is called Unframed…
Making a surprise appearance in Roberts' case is Victorian fairy painter John Anster Fitzgerald, who imagineered hyper-weird twig frames for his paintings of fantasy subjects. Roberts cites Fitzgerald as an example of the late 19th-century interest in creative, artist-designed frames integral to the painting. Coincidentally, there's a Fitzgerald painting at the Getty now, in "The Fantasy of the Middle Ages." His Fairies in a Bird's Nest had a twig frame, and I was hoping to see it here. Instead it's being shown in a simple rectangular frame. Maybe the twig frame was too fragile to travel? The Fitzgerald is owned by the Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco (which had the Segantini Spring in the Alps on loan for 71 years).
|John Anster Fitzgerald, Fairies in a Bird's Nest, 1860, in original frame. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco|