This week’s entries are dedicated to objects featured in the exhibition Thom Browne Selects, currently on view at Cooper Hewitt through October 23, 2016.
Framing is a common practice. In contemporary society we experience literal and metaphorical framing on a daily basis. As one looks out of their apartment window, scrolls through their New York Times app on their commute to work, or gets dressed in the morning, framing is always occurring as a method of presentation. Bronze mounts were design elements to enhance the presentation of furniture. They were often small accents on a much larger piece.
This example of a late eighteenth/early nineteenth century cast and gilt bronze frame is characteristic of French neoclassical mounts found commonly on case furniture. The intention behind these tiny frames was to beautifully contrast rich woods, such as mahogany, in an effort to decorate but not overwhelm the form and design of the work. Neoclassicism looked back to antiquity as a paradigm of good design while responding to the fanciful and swirling designs of the rococo style, which many found to be a frivolous design. With the deeper knowledge of antiquity found through excavations came a greater understanding of design from the ancient world. In stark opposition to rococo’s natural, curving lines, neoclassicism’s austere form revered the geometry and symmetry of classical architecture.
Palmettes, seen at the corners of the lozenge-shaped mount, were a popular motif along with architectural attributes like columns, moldings, and capitals. This mount boasts two moldings; one with the appearance of stringed pearls on the inside of the mount and a hard, straight-lined outer molding. The simplified appearance of the mount would have allowed the quality and magnificence of fine craftwork and material to capture the attention of a patron.
Emily Birzak is a graduate student at Parsons studying History of Design and Curatorial Studies and serves as a fellow in the Product Design and Decorative Arts department. Currently, her interests lie in fashion and its position in business and the arts.