History of Everyday Objects : Photo Frame

Welcome to History of Everyday Objects for D’s Art Takes. Here, we unveil the origins of life through the ages on planet Earth, by looking at the everyday objects. Today, we explore the origins of the Photo Frame.

The Concept of Framing

A photo frame is a decorative frame into which a picture is mounted. The concept of framing things to draw attention to them predates the photo frame.

Artists and artisans of ancient Greece and Egypt used two-dimensional frames. This means that an artist painting a wall would create borders around each different picture, thus ‘framing’ it, in a way. The purpose of this framing would be to either act as a separator between 2 distinct images. Or to highlight one over the other.

The oldest known photo frame dates back to circa 60 AD. Archaeologists discovered this three-dimensional wooden photo frame in an ancient Egyptian tomb.

Evolution of the Photo Frame

The utility of the photo frame grew in the Middle Ages. Especially in a religious context. Frames were used by the Church to adorn paintings of Christ, the Virgin Mother and the Apostles. Consequently, the frames produced were extremely ornate and often made from precious metals and stones.

As the trend of portraiture spread across Europe, the importance of the photo frame grew further. Aristocrats had their portraits painted by the best artists. And then framed these in the best, most decorative frames. After all, they were to hang in their houses, over the fireplace, for everyone to see. Ebony, shell and rare woods were used by frame manufacturers of the time.

Finally, with the birth and evolution of photography, the importance of frames only grew further. Now, all classes of people could afford to have pictures of themselves in their house. Frames thus became extremely commonplace. They even became more affordable. Now produced with readily available materials like steel, wood, and plastic.

The Dubai Frame : Situated in Dubai, it is the world’s largest photo frame. It measures 150 x 93m the frame. Looking through it, you can see old Dubai or new Dubai, depending on which side of it you stand on.

Read more articles on the History of Everyday Objects in the archive.