Framing Fine Art is No Easy Task to Preserve a Paintings Value

The Prodigal Son - Rembrandt
The Prodigal Son - Rembrandt

Avid art collectors and particularly artists that specialize in oil paintings, know all too well the importance of preserving valuable artworks. Oil paintings can degenerate very quickly and in fact this already starts to happen immediately after a painting is completed.

Temperature changes in one’s home or the place where a painting is displayed result in expanding and contracting of the solid painted surface. Add to that the fact that canvasses that are stretched over a frame forming the work area of an artist, if not done properly can lose its consistency over time. Varying light and especially sunlight can be very damaging to oil paintings. Even the Mona Lisa could not escape this reality with fine cracks in her soft cheeks.

Mounting a suitable frame however on a painting is this first productive step to preserving a choice piece of art and is much more involving than you might think. Today’s picture framers have made great strides using modern technologies to protect oil paintings. Framing fine art has therefore become big business serving a crucial need to artists, painting collectors and gallery owners alike.

Oil paintings are also susceptible to ‘burning’ where you often see a picture having a brownish tint over time. This discoloration is caused by the acid contained in boards used by amateur framers.

Some of the Modern processes involved in framing fine art


  • Expert picture framing companies employ a variety of techniques the most frequent being the mounting of a painting on hinges so that the painting almost floats and the painting is protected. Mounting a painting on directly to a backing board of a frame would actually render it worthless.
  • The boards used by top framing companies are specially designed to be acid free and are known as ‘conservation board’.
  • The best picture framers always aim to make their framing a compliment to a piece of art, where the emphasis is on enhancing the existing beauty of a painting rather than detracting the viewer from it.
  • 22 Carat gold leaf frames are used for special works as these are quite malleable and can be hand carved for extra appeal. These also are resistant to tarnishing.

Framing fine art and the interesting developments in frame glass technology

Denglas is a proprietary term of a special glass that is employed in picture framing these days. They come in a variety of formats, the basic one known as Water White Denglas – whose primary purpose is to bring out the beauty of a painting by entirely reducing the amount of reflection you can see on the glass plate surface.

Other achievements in this technology include and are not confined to providing UV protection in order to limit the potential damage that sunlight can cause to an oil painting’s surface.

Even more exciting is the strides Denglas has recently made by inventing a glass that seems almost invisible to the viewer such that you would actually be able to notice only the original painted surface and hence appreciate the natural brushed texture of a painting.

A Few Essential Tips for Preserving your Oil Painting Investment

  • Some people have the habit of dumping an oil painting that they no longer wish to display in the attic or basement. This is definitely a no-no since the dust in these environments can rapidly degrade and even destroy the value of a painting. At times you will find dust on a painting’s surface or smudging of the varnish especially where the painting has not been sealed with a glass sheet. Do not ever take a damp cloth or rag and try to wipe the area concerned. Even worse is if you are thinking about using a detergent or solvent to do this.
  • Using a raw damp cloth to wipe a picture frame is a sure way to spoiling it especially if it contains gold leaf finishing.

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2 comments

BrightMeadow profile image

BrightMeadow 4 years ago from a room of one's own

I had no idea oil paintings were so delicate. This was very interesting and informative. Really great hub.


Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank You BrightMeadow for taking the time and commenting! Glad you enjoyed the hub!

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