REFRAMING ALBERT BIERSTADT'S "MOUNT WHITNEY"
“Mount Whitney is one of Albert Bierstadt’s last “Great Pictures,” a series of massive, operatic paintings he created to celebrate the Western landscape. Mount Whitney conveys the epic power of the Sierra Nevada mountain range with breathtaking bravado, transporting viewers into an Edenic Western wonderland. Displayed at the Paris Salon of 1880 and hailed as “one of the truly great landscapes of our country,” Mount Whitney, c. 1877 has been an important part of the Rockwell Museum of Western Art and the Corning community for decades. During the 1970s, Mount Whitney was featured in exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery, Washington D.C., the Denver Art Museum, and the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. Since the 1980s, Mount Whitney has served as the centerpiece of the Museum collection, and has become synonymous with the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, occupying a place of honor on the central wall of the Visions of the West gallery. In 2011, a conservator noticed inconsistencies in the Mount Whitney frame. Areas of the molding along the bottom of the frame seemed muddy and unclear, and the gold leaf gilding, discolored in certain sections, had lost much of its original luster. Slowly, the story of the frame emerged. Long ago the painting was separated from its original frame. The current frame was not an American frame from the 1870s. On closer examination, details in the current frame indicated that it had been expanded to accommodate Mount Whitney when the painting was purchased. The condition of the frame, especially the inserted sections, was deteriorating. This deterioration distracted from the beauty and power of Mount Whitney. In consultation with a frame conservator, curatorial staff determined that reframing was the best course of action to properly preserve and present Mount Whitney. The Museum commissioned a custom-made replica frame from the highly respected studio of Gill & Lagodich Fine Period Frames. Based on an antique American frame, this artisan-crafted, one-of-a-kind frame is similar to frames Bierstadt used in the 1870s. The ornamental details, which serve as abstract reflections of the foliate motifs in the painting, compliment the large, muscular rails of the frame, which reflect the bold drama of the all-encompassing scene. This custom frame encompasses the spirit of the painting. The re-framing project reflects a wider effort within art museums to house their most important paintings in frames that are correct in style and time period. The new frame returned Mount Whitney to its proper glory.”
Rockwell Museum blogs "Rare Event"
watch video: Rockwell Museum of Western Art reframes a monumental Bierstadt
Albert Bierstadt, “'Mount Whitney', c.1877, oil on canvas, 68-7/8 x 116-5/8 inches; Rockwell Museum of Western Art. Reframed by Gill & Lagodich in a custom-made replica c.1870s American frame; gilded applied ornament over wood with incised star-and-fret pattern frieze; molding width 11-1/4 inches. “In 1859, Bierstadt went west in search of new material. He soon became foremost among "the Rocky Mountain School" of artists. Moving to California to be near his favorite scenery, he helped to establish the "California School" of landscape painters. Bierstadt portrayed the West as a place of almost supernatural wonder. By the mid-1870's, he was the most popular western landscape painter in America. … It was early explorer artists like Bierstadt whose spectacular large works persuaded President Theodore Roosevelt and the U. S. Congress to establish our western national parks and further influenced exploration and westward expansion of the United States.”
A frame custom-made in TriBeCa
Rockwell Museum – Recent Acquisitions, 2013.
Custom-made replica frame, Mt. Whitney. Purchased in 2013. "Albert Bierstadt’s iconic Mount Whitney was refitted with a custom-made replica of an 1870s American frame by the prestigious frame company, Gill & Lagodich Fine Period Frames & Restoration in 2013. Mount Whitney commands the Visions of the West Gallery at the Rockwell Museum as one of the nation’s most important American landscape paintings. This re-framing project reflects a wider effort within art museums to house their most important paintings in frames that are correct in style and time period. Most recently, curators have begun to look at frames more critically. The study of American frames in particular, is a relatively new field of scholarship, and it is only in the past few decades that collectors and museums are re-evaluating the importance of frames on their own and in relation to paintings."
WENY NEWS – New Frame for Rockwell Museum Painting
CORNING---(WENY) September 25, 2013 "The Rockwell museum of Western Art in Corning received a special delivery Wednesday; a 450 pound frame. The frame is a replica of an 1870s American frame for the museum's centerpiece, Albert Bierstadt's 'Mount Whitney' painting. Its original frame had greatly deteriorated and was not an American 19th century frame. Gill & Lagodich Fine Period Frames & Restoration in Manhattan did the job. It took nine people and a crane to lift the massive frame three stories into the museum. Curator of Collections, James Peck says, "Over 200 square feet of gold leaf and over a football field worth of ornament and wood were laid end to end. And so, it's been a year long process, a;most a year ago. Today is the day it all comes together." Donations from the community helped to pay for the frame."
Install day: hoisting the crated frame to third floor terrace of the museum.