The Arts and Crafts Movement was dominant in many areas of American design at the beginning of the 20th Century. Artists exalted the beauty of natural materials and handcraftsmanship. Simple and wide oak moldings, such as the examples in the period frame corner samples to the right, were popular for many framing uses. Building on the dictates laid down by Charles Eastlake decades earlier, frame artisans eschewed compo ornament and returned to the 18th Century practice of carving picture frames by hand.
Arts and Crafts frames were the choice of the early American Impressionists, like Childe Hassam, and a number of frame-making studios were formed to meet this demand. To further assert the role of the craftsman, studios carved their marks on the backs of the frames--Thulin, Harer, Carrig-Rohane--names that command high prices in today's market. The Foster Brothers Company worked out of Boston; their frames are renowned for expert carving and fine gilding. I feature a number of them in this website room. Others can be found in 20th Century Photo Frames and Mirror Frames.
Carved frames continued to be popular into the 1920's. Thereafter their quality deteriorated, and they are easily found, in all their variety, in markets today. The term "Modernist" denotes American painting frames from the 1940's and 1950's. The House of Heydenryk, a leader in creating bold and unique moldings in the Modernist era, is still alive and well today, one of the leading dealers in antique and reproduction frames. Although I do exhibit Modernist frames on this website, I do have access to an important source. If you are interested, please inquire.