Russian frames: an interview with Oksana Lysenko of the Russian Museum, St Petersburg

by theframeblog

Oksana Lysenko is a Senior Academic at the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg, where she has worked since 1995. In 2005 she organized the first exhibition of picture frames in Russia: The clothing of pictures: Russian frames from the 18th to the 20th century.  She produced the catalogue for the exhibition, and has also written a number of articles on Russian frames.

Cover of catalogue Cover of catalogue, The clothing of pictures: Russian frames from the 18th to the 20th century, 2005

The Frame Blog: The exhibition in 2005 and the accompanying catalogue seem to have been almost entirely your own work?

Oksana Lysenko The idea for this exhibition was mine, and I did the majority of the preparatory work and produced most of the catalogue. However, I wouldn’t have been able to do so much without my colleagues: the staff of the Russian Museum were a great support to me. Inna Faizulina, for example, helped me to research the history of the frames included in the catalogue – when each frame came to the Russian Museum, its provenance, and which painting it contained. It was complex and comprehensive work.

Fig 4

Exhibition hang, The clothing of pictures, State Russian Museum, St Petersburg

For several reasons, the exhibition took about 5 years to prepare. First, because I wanted to include the most interesting and characteristic frames from every period from the collection of the Russian Museum, and many of these were in a very poor state of preservation, needing careful restoration. The kind of restoration which, using museum techniques, necessarily takes a long time.

Secondly, I spent a lot of time writing the articles for the catalogue. You must know that at that point there were no books or articles on the history of Russian picture frames – for most of the 20th century, the frame was not seen as a work of art in Russia. This was because the events of the 1917 revolution had changed the course of history: the Bolsheviks had tried to destroy the culture which existed up to the early 20th century, when the frame had indeed been perceived as a work of art. I worked in the archives, I researched the history of interiors and the history of furniture, I systematized the information I acquired, I compared different styles and patterns, and bit by bit I built up a picture of the subject. And at that time I had no books about European frames, which made my work extremely difficult. It was a very interesting and problematic time… Now I have all the necessary books and catalogues on European picture frames, for which I’m very grateful to my German friends – Hyma Roskamp and Martin Dickel – and also to Olaf Lemke.

Cat p84 C19 NeoClassical commemorating AA Ivanova

NeoClassical Revival parcel-gilt frame commemorating A.A. Ivanova, second half 19th century (catalogue, p.84)

FB: How were you trained, and what gave you such an interest in picture frames?

OL:  No institute or college in Russia teaches the history of picture frames – frames are not even mentioned. And young people – students, who are our future specialists – are not interested in frames, they do not understand either their important role in the perception of painting, or the fact that the frames are also works of art. This is a great problem. Therefore, for the second year running I’ve been giving a series of public lectures in the State Russian Museum on the history of picture frames.  I produced these lectures in order to explain the history of frames to the public, and to demonstrate how beautiful and how important they are.  And they are working! Members of my audience go to museums and exhibitions, and look again at the works of art – and this time they see the picture frames!

Fig 1

Exhibition hang, The clothing of pictures, State Russian Museum, St Petersburg

My interest in picture frames is unexpected even to me. After university I studied modern art, and curated exhibitions of contemporary artists. Then I was offered a place working in the picture frame store of the RussianMuseum, where there was a vacancy. I accepted this place, but at that point I had no idea how it would affect my ideas. I realized the beauty and the variety of frames – and I fell in love! That was how I began to study the history of frames…. and then I had the idea of organizing an exhibition of Russian picture frames.

Osip Braz Portrait of Tolstoy in its frame

Osip Braz, Portrait of Count Dmitri Ivanovich Tolstoy, Director of the Hermitage 1909-18, o/c, 1901, in its carved oak Art Nouveau frame, with ivy leaves (catalogue, p.109)

FB: Frames, as a subject of art historical study, have become far more visible, important and popular in western Europe over the last 20 years. Are curators and conservators in Russia becoming more aware of their importance – especially since your exhibition?

OL: Partly – yes; but only partly. It’s true that the perception of frames in Russia began to change after the exhibition. Many people realized that frames really are works of art. Moreover, some museums had no picture frames stores before the exhibition; frames were not a recognized museological category, and usually weren’t even given inventory numbers. After the exhibition, these museums began to build up collections of picture frames, and frames acquired the status of a museum category.

However, even today many curators ignore the frame, don’t understand its rôle in the perception of the painting, and don’t see the frame as a work of art. This is surprising, and it is very sad! But it is quite natural phenomenon.  Remember, in Europe it was only in the late 19th century that Wilhelm von Bode began to study picture frames, and to publish his research. After that other publications came along, and gradually the process accelerated, influencing public opinion and the attitude of curators. In Russia nothing like this was happening. Over a hundred years after Bode, frames were still not receiving any notice. A great number of good books had been written about the history of the decorative and applied arts and the history of the interior, with not a word about frames in them. Isn’t that amazing?! Academics and curators had certain entrenched opinions, and it is difficult to change these all at once. It will take time – years, perhaps even decades. However, I think that a new generation is growing up which will think differently. For my part, I constantly conduct research and give papers at conferences (in museums and institutions – for different audiences), in order to publicize, to as wide an audience as possible, the problems of studying picture frames, and to draw the attention of curators and conservators to the frames.

On the other hand, if we’re talking about the status of frames in the antiquarian market in Russia, then the position here makes me much happier! The prices of antique frames have increased dramatically, and demand for them has also significantly increased.

Riza of icon Virgin Hodegetria c1560 Moscow Armoury The Kremlin

Riza from an icon of the Virgin Hodegetria, c.1560, gold & enamel, inset with gems, Moscow Kremlin, Armoury Chamber

FB: In 2005 you spoke at the frame conference held in Dresden.  I remember your saying that picture frames did not appear in Russia until the last quarter of the 17th century – why is that?  In western Europe we have frames dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries.

OL:  It’s because Russia only began to develop a secular art during the last quarter of the 17th century. That’s when portraits and history paintings began to appear, and thus a need for frames developed as well. Up to that time in Russia there were only religious paintings, and these were icons which don’t have frames, as we think of them.  But the icon has a covering (the riza) which is decorated and often very beautiful. It is usually made of metal (gold, silver or brass), and can be enamelled, set with precious stones or glass, or even embroidered with beads or pearls. As a rule, the riza covers the entire panel of the icon, except for the face and hands of the holy figure, so – strictly speaking – the riza cannot be called a frame. However, the riza and the frame do have features in common, as well as the edge or so-called ‘field’ of the icon. This ‘field’ around the edge of the icon often contains Biblical inscriptions or pictures from the life of the saint, forming a frame-like border to the icon itself. In addition, mediaeval Russia developed the iconostasis – a beautiful gilded ‘wall’ of icons, very like the largest polyptychs in mediaeval Europe. In my opinion, all these settings of icons are the predecessors of the picture frame in Russia.

The iconostasis of the Annunciation Cathedral in Moscow Kremlin

The iconostasis of the Annunciation, Cathedral of the Annunciation, Moscow Kremlin, second half 16th century

FB: Did the tradition of iconostases in the Russian Church mean that there were no altarpiece frames, as in mediaeval and Renaissance western Catholic churches?

OL:  This is a very interesting question. In mediaeval Russia there were indeed altarpieces, but they were very different from European retables. They were small double-sided icons, with an image on either side of the panel, which were carried out of the Church on holy days, in religious processions. On one side of the icon Christ or the Virgin would be depicted, and on the other side the image of the saint to whom the church was dedicated. The icon had a special wooden handle so that it could be carried, and its setting or ‘frame’ was as described above: sometimes just a border at the edge, with pictures from the life of the saint or a text, and sometimes the riza.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 A. Zubov, The wedding of pygmy Yakim Volkov, buffoon of Peter I, engraving, 1711, showing an early hang of paintings in a state room

FB: Peter the Great (r.1682-1725) apparently commanded the Russian aristocracy to fill their houses with pictures, frames being the natural accessory. Was this a question of keeping up with western fashions?

OL:  It’s more complicated than that…  The reign of Peter I was a difficult period in the history of Russia. Peter broke with the old traditions; he wanted Russia to develop in a different way, as he’d seen was the case in Europe. So he sent his brightest students to Europe, where they studied crafts and sciences, such as shipbuilding, armaments, medicine and astronomy, as well as the arts. Also, Peter invited experts in all these areas to come to Russia, in order to teach sciences, arts and crafts; Russia was in need of all sorts of highly skilled specialists. When Peter had travelled through Europe in 1797, he had visited a number of museums and private collections, in order to profit from the experience of countries completely different from Russia. And of course he noticed how interiors were decorated in different countries, what paintings were hung in them, and in what kind of frames. So when he introduced European customs and innovations into Russia, it wasn’t just a case of following fashion, it was much more radical: a destruction of the old Russian culture and traditions. Peter the Great thought that this was necessary in order to modernize the country – and he managed to achieve his aim.

Cat p36 Rococo asymmet pierced cartouches 1st third C18

Rococo frame with asymmetric pierced cartouches, first half 18th century (catalogue, p.36)

FB: Did western European craftsmen come to carve and gild for the Russian court? The earliest 18th century Russian frames seem very sophisticated, given they had very few forebears.

OL:  The fact is that Russia had a very good tradition of carving; carved works of antique folk art are eloquent witnesses to this for our own time. Skilled Russian carvers had always worked at the tsar’s court, decorating the interiors of palaces and producing carvings for the churches. They had their own techniques and instruments for carving, and their own very recognizable style. When European master sculptors arrived in Russia with their different approaches, the Russian carvers quickly learned from the new techniques and style of carving, and the new ornaments. It’s amazing how quickly they learned. If you look at Russian-made frames from the first third of the 18th century, you will see the characteristic style of the traditional Russian masters; but by the mid-18th century this has almost completely vanished.

Cat p39 German influ Rococo 2nd third C18

 German influenced Rococo frame, second third 18th century (catalogue, p.39)

FB: Was there a fashion for importing frames from France and Germany in the 18th century? There seems to be a mixture of very refined and very rustic patterns existing together.

OL: That’s true – the influence of both France and Germany is obvious. However, there was no fashion for importing frames from these countries, apart from the frames which entered Russia with the pictures they contained.  It was more the case that migrant craftsmen continued to work in Russia, and they were very influential. Also Russia, like most European countries, was greatly affected by the pattern books and albums of engraved ornament which were brought in; these included patterns books of frame designs. They were enormously influential for Russian framemakers, who took over some designs wholesale, and also added their own variations. As a result, many completely original versions of picture frames were developed here in Russia, as I think you’ll agree…

Cat p40to41  PA Rotari Pair Portraits of girl 1760s

Pietro Antonio Rotari (1707 Verona – 1762 St Petersburg), Portrait of girl, o/c, one of a pair, very rare original Transitional style frame (also a pair), 1760s, painted white and green (catalogue, p.40)

Cat p40to41 one of pair B

Frame of pendant to Rotari portrait (above); Transitional style, 1760s, painted white and green (catalogue, p.41)

FB: In your talk at Dresden, you noted that many frames were removed from the Russian Museum collection and put into a frame store. Has it been possible to reunite many of them with the pictures they belonged to?

OL: Reuniting frames and their paintings is one of the most important parts of my work. The picture in its own specially-created frame: this is a magnificent spectacle, a beautiful example of the synthesis of two arts, fine and applied. I’ve achieved a number of such reunions, through the use of old photographs, 19th century watercolors of interiors and archival documents. In particular, I recently wrote two articles about frames in the Hermitage Museum (in the Romanov gallery, and the gallery with views of St. Petersburg).  These were particularly joyful discoveries, because the frames in question have remained in the possession of the Russian Museum and the Hermitage, and until now no one knew which paintings they had been made for.  However, I have no idea when my discovery will be realized, and the frames reunited with the paintings.

This is not first time that pictures and frames remain apart in the face of the evidence – the frames in store and the paintings hanging on display in new and frequently unsuitable frames, or the frame used for a different picture. This is a great problem in the bigger museums, with a large collection of picture frames. You know – like a spoilt child who has a lot of toys, and doesn’t take care of them, or appreciate them.  Unfortunately, this is often the way of large museums with their frames, and the reason is the same. Many of the Museum staff still don’t perceive the beauty of frames, or understand their importance. And they don’t understand why they have to take so much care when they’re reframing paintings, or whether they should stop to think if in this case it is necessary remove the frame from the picture; they don’t realize the need to find exactly the right replacement in terms of style and period, and they never think about the necessity of conservation…

Fig 2

 Exhibition hang, The clothing of pictures, State Russian Museum, St Petersburg

It may also be the case that the original frame of a painting is very beautiful and richly decorated, so that it will attract a lot of attention on exhibition – and this scares Museum staff, especially the conservators of pictures, because they’re used to thinking of the painting as the important element in the partnership. So, when it comes to frames, they don’t stop to consider the importance of historical truth. However, in small museums the situation can often be very different – especially for museums with historic interiors (such as the wonderful Pavlovsk Palace State Museum Reserve, not far from St. Petersburg). As a rule, the curators of such museums view historical integrity as very important, and they respect the frames in their care (generally these museums all have small collections of picture frames). I hope that over time the situation will change in the larger museums, such as the Russian Museum and the Hermitage.

Fig 5

Exhibition hang, The clothing of pictures, State Russian Museum, St Petersburg

FB: The catalogue of the exhibition you curated illustrated mostly empty frames. Is this because they are still empty, or was it an aesthetic choice?

OL:  Yes, it was an aesthetic choice. I wanted to show the frames as works of art; to focus on their beauty. For the first ever exhibition of picture frames in Russia this is was especially important, so at the exhibition frames were mostly hung without the paintings associated with them. However a few frames containing their paintings were included, in order to demonstrate the synthesis of the two arts, and to explain the important rôle of the frame.

Cat p38 Portrait of Catherine the Great replica frame scan sm

Ivan Adolskiy, Portrait of Catherine the Great in replica Rococo trophy frame, created 1970s (catalogue, p.38)

FB: On page 38 of the catalogue, you illustrate an extraordinary Rococo trophy frame, around a painting of Catherine the Great.  Was this made in Russia? and what is the finish? – it looks as though it’s been painted white, rather than gilded.

OL: This is why I’m sorry that the catalogue was published only in Russian, so you can’t read the comments at the end (page 141). The authentic mid-18th century frame did not survive – it was lost during the Second World War.

Cat p38  I Adolskiy Portrait of Catherine I orig C18 frame

Ivan Adolskiy, Portrait of Catherine the Great, original mid-18th century Rococo trophy frame, shown in early 20th century photograph

However, in 1977-1978 this frame was reproduced by two carvers, Kochuyev and Sharmanov, from old photographs of the original, and the carved ornaments were executed so well that for many years the staff of the State Museum-Reserve at Tsarskoye Selo (the Tsar’s Village) did not want to gild the frame. It continued to hang in one of the halls of the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo for nearly thirty years without being gilded, and what you see in the photo in the catalogue is the bare, untreated wood of the frame. However, in 2005 it was gilded.

Miniature portrait of Emperor Paul I in NeoClassical trophy frame

       Miniature portrait of Emperor Paul I (r.1796-1801) in NeoClassical trophy frame, ex cat.

Russian carvers executed many magnificent Rococo and NeoClassical trophy frames during the 18th century. They also produced splendid carved Rococo boiseries in the interiors of palaces, designed by the architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli (Florence, 1700-1771, St Petersburg). Both the frames and the boiseries were gilded, producing an impression of extraordinary opulence and grandeur.   Unfortunately, all these magnificent Russian Rococo trophy frames were lost during the revolution of 1917 and during the Second World War. We have only old photos of these frames.

E Gau Field Marshal Hall in the Winter Palace watercolour 1866

E. Gau, Field Marshal Hall in the Winter Palace, watercolour, 1866, showing the hang of paintings in trophy frames (catalogue, p.38)

FB: In western art history, the study of frame history has been greatly helped by the number of paintings of interiors from an early period.  Apparently this was not a genre which had much popularity in Russia?

E Gau Cabine3t Gr Duchess Maria Alexandrovna watercolour 1874

E. Gau, The cabinet of the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, watercolour, 1874, showing a domestic hang of paintings, ex cat.

OL: Yes, in Russia this genre only became popular during the 1820s-30s. Before that – during the first third of the 18th century – there were only a few engravings of interiors which showed the frames, and this makes it difficult to research the early history of Russian frames. We have to use comparative analysis and archival documents to help our work.

FB: You, together with Maria Kolosova, curator at the Hermitage, seem to have invented the study of picture frames: the styles, the history, and the wood used to make them?

OL:  Maria Kolosova is a wonderful specialist. Together we conducted extensive work to determine what kinds of wood were used in various frames. The results of this work are shown at the back of the exhibition catalogue. I gave Maria tiny fragments of wood from the frames, and she analyzed  them by microscopic study to determine  the taxonomic category of the wood, through studying features of their biological structure. Of course, quite often the kind of wood involved can be determined visually, but we wanted to get a really accurate result, so we sampled fragments of wood from different parts of the frame. We also studied the carved ornaments closely, and the provenance of many frames. As a result, we can draw interesting conclusions: for example, that in the 18th century Russian frames were usually made from limewood.

Of course such data can then be applied to further scientific study of frames, in order to establish their attribution to particular locations and periods – but only as an additional factor, not as the principal evidence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Orest Kiprensky, Portrait of the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, o/c, 1834; Italian Baroque pierced scrolling foliate frame (catalogue, p.119)

For example, Orest Kiprensky’s portrait of the Danish sculptor Thorvaldsen is in the collection of the Russian Museum.  Its frame was acquired by Kiprensky himself in Italy, specifically for the portrait of Thorvaldsen, and brought to St. Petersburg. I know this now, because I’ve established it through research; but before the exhibition no one knew anything about this frame, or even which painting it belonged to. When I began to look into its history I studied watercolors of the Imperial Hermitage, where I found the frame depicted around the portrait; I also read Kiprensky’s letters where I found a reference to the frame. I knew that it wasn’t the work of a Russian carver, so I assumed that it was made in Italy (it has very distinctive carved ornament). And finally, an important proof of its Italian origin was that it was made of poplar (this was established by Maria Kolosova). Finding the species of wood from which the frame was made was an important corroborating fact in the provenance of Kiprensky’s frame.

FB: When was composition ornament first used in Russia?

OL:  I can not give an exact date. It was in the first quarter of the 19th century.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Karl Briullov, Portrait of Princess Saltykov, o/c, 1841, in its original carved wood trophy frame with grapevines, sable and eagles: heraldic animals from the arms of Count Stroganov,  the Princess’s father (catalogue, p.65)

FB: Many 19th century Russian frames seem generally more inventive and more beautifully made than, for example, 19th century non-artist designed frames in Britain.  Do you think that this is because frame design was still a relatively new and exciting area of art and craftsmanship?

OL:  Oh, what an interesting and unexpected question! No, I think the reason is different. The main customers for the picture frames you’re describing were from the Russian aristocracy; and it was their taste, their desire for elegant and richly decorated interiors in their palaces and mansions, which were the determining factors in the design of picture frames.  For example, page 65 of the catalogue shows a beautiful carved giltwood frame, which is almost a sculpture. This frame was commissioned by Count Stroganov, and was probably made by craftsmen (serfs) in his own service. The frame housed a portrait of Princess Saltykov (Stroganov’s daughter), and hung in one of the magnificent salons in the Stroganov Palace on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg (designed by Bartolommeo Rastrelli and remodelled by Andrei Voronikhin in the 19th century). It was an integral part of the interior decoration of the palace. And I can give many more such examples.

Cat p74 P Shamansky Grigory Gladin

P. Shamansky, Grigory Gladin, second half 19th century, o/c, in its walnut frame, with trophies attributive to the sitter (catalogue, p.74)

Moreover, even a merchant – a former peasant – might occasionally order an interesting frame. Page 74 of the catalogue shows the beautiful carved walnut trophy frame for P. Shamansky’s  portrait of  the merchant Grigory Gladin. Gladin was born a peasant but became a merchant and a member of the highest mercantile guild, the owner of a company which executed major projects, such as the construction of railways and of several bridges in St Petersburg.  Gladin’s sons commissioned this magnificent frame for his portrait in the second half of 19th century, in revival Rococo style. The ornament includes unexpected carved details – an axe, parts of a railway, a fishing net and a bridge. These elements commemorate Grigory Gladin’s career as an important merchant and businessman.

Cat p132 Vasily Vereshchagin The iconostasis  sm

Vasily Vereshchagin, The iconostasis of the church of St. John the Evangelist near Rostov, late 1880s-90s, in original frame designed by the artist (catalogue, p.132)

FB: In Britain, the Pre-Raphaelites started to design their own picture frames from the late 1840s. When did artists in Russia begin to design their own frames?  And was this an individual or a group activity?

OL:  In Russia it was individual artists rather than a group. For instance, in the 1830s-40s Karl Briullov designed frames for his own pictures – the artist’s sketches of these frames have been preserved, in the collections of the State Russian Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery. And in the last quarter of the 19th-early 20th century Vasily Vereshchagin and Elizaveta Bem both designed frames for their own work; the paintings, still in their striking frames, are in the collections of various Russian museums.

Cat p128 Elizaveta Bem Boy in helmet and chain arrmour Elizaveta Bem, Boy in helmet and chain armour, watercolour on paper, 1909, in original frame designed by the artist, composed of cardboard, glass, relief of lead and quartzite, velvet, parcel gilt (catalogue, p.128)

In the 1930s Nikolai Suetin, a follower of Kazimir Malevich, also produced original designs, and there were other artists, such as Valery Vatenin, and Yuri Khrzhanovsky, a follower of Pavel Filonov. I won’t name them all, but there are several others. In general, however, artists – even those who understand the importance of the frame – tend to have their own pictures framed by studios and commercial frame shops.

Vasily Vereshchagin The retired butler 1888

Vasily Vereshchagin, The retired butler, 1888, in original frame designed by the artist, ornamented with birds in twining foliage (catalogue, p.135)

FB: Frame restoration is a relatively new but very important part of conservation at the State Russian Museum. In your Dresden paper you mention experimenting with watercolour touching-in, rather than the use of gold leaf, and filling-in with cork fragments: both methods seem to have grown very practically out of the need to respect the antiquity of the frame and its finish.

OL:  The picture frame is a work of art, and an heirloom of its particular period. Of course, everything must be done to conserve such a priceless artefact and keep it looking as it was when it was created – you understand how important this is. But if a restorer goes beyond conservation, by restoring lost ornaments, say, he may harm the frame, since, after such ‘restoration’, it is no longer an authentic period piece, but a ‘new’ frame. This is equally true for the finish: it is very important to keep the original gilding, and not to gild over it. Museum methods of conservation, which I described in the paper I gave at Dresden, aim to preserve the authenticity of the object. The main principle of museum conservation is to do no harm. It’s better not to do something, for example, not to reconstruct a lost fragment of carved decoration, if there is no existing evidence for it. I wish very much that all restorers understood this, and that they feel their responsibility to history. But, of course, this is utopia: unfortunately, very different methods of restoring picture frames now prevail in Russia. In my lectures on the history of picture frames I always explain to my audience (which, of course, includes people who own valuable frames) the difference between the various methods of conservation, and I hope, over time, the situation will change for the better.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fragment of a Rococo frame

FB: Do you have a favourite style of frame?

OL:  I never get tired of the richness of imagination and craftsmanship displayed in picture frames from different countries and different epochs. Some frames are so magnificent and so harmonious that it’s almost impossible to stop looking at them; the style is not important. And yet… I confess that I’m particularly fond of Italian Renaissance polychrome cassetta frames, and also 17th century Spanish gilt and polychrome bolection frames – especially when they’re decorated with sgraffito.

 FB: What would you like to do next?

OL:  I’m continuing to research the history of Russian picture frames, and have now begun to study the frames of the Russian avant-garde; I have an idea for a new exhibition, on Russian artists’ frames. Another idea is to create a multimedia program about a picture frames for children.

FB: Thank you for an extremely interesting and informative interview, and good luck with your next project!

OL:  Thank you, Lynn – I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for the interesting and very timely Frame Blog!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Exhibition hang: Reconstruction of part of an exhibition by Vasily Vereshchagin, an artist noted for his individual ideas of display.  His exhibitions were usually themed, with a single series of works: here, the Russian series.  Vereshchagin hung his paintings on a background of velvet draperies, and always used electric light in the exhibition rooms (at a period in the early 20th century when kerosene lighting was more usual). He also arranged for music to be played, and for pot plants to decorate the rooms. This is a version of the integrated aesthetic of, for example, Whistler’s exhibitions.

Oksana Lysenko is a senior member of the academic staff of the State Russian Museum, St Petersberg, where she has worked since 1995. She organized the exhibition, The clothing of pictures: Russian frames from the 18th to the 20th century (2005, RussianMuseum), and produced the accompanying catalogue. Other publications include:

O. Lysenko «The history of the frame in Russia: the last quarter of the 17th, and the 18th centuries»; «The history of the frame in Russia in the 19th and early 20th centuries», catalogue of  exhibition «The clothing of pictures: Russian frames from the 18th to the 20th century» (2005, Russian Museum, St.Petersburg).

O. Lysenko «The history of two frames in the collection of the RussianMuseum». Pages of the history of domestic art 16-21 century. Issue XI. The StateRussianMuseum, St. Petersburg, 2005, p 110.

O. Lysenko « Creation of picture frames in Russia of the 19th century in the documents of the Court of His Imperial Majesty’s Office (Imperial Archives)». Pages of the history of domestic art 16-21 century. Issue XII. The StateRussianMuseum, St. Petersburg, 2005, p. 108.

O. Lysenko «Frames in the collection of the RussianMuseum: cataloguing the collection». Problems of conservation and restoration of exhibits in an art museum. The StateRussianMuseum, St. Petersburg, 2002, p. 3.

O. Lysenko, E.Juravleva « About a complex research and restoration of picture frames from the collection of the StateRussianMuseum». Problems of conservation and restoration of exhibits in an art museum. The StateRussianMuseum, St. Petersburg, 2003, p. 86.

O. Lysenko  «Picture frames in Russia», the magazine: «Antique. Info», № 33, 2006, p. 98.

O. Lysenko  «Frames and baguette in Russia of the 19th century», the magazine: «Antique. Info», № 34, 2006, p. 77.

O. Lysenko  «The frames … and their portraits», the magazine: «Antique. Info», № 36/37, 2006, 84.  

O. Lysenko «Picture frames in Russia and abroad. To the problem conservation of heritage», the magazine: «Antique Review», № 1, 2006, p. 56.

O. Lysenko «Picture frames on the antiques market of St. Petersburg», the magazine: «Antique Review», № 3. 2006, p. 78.

O. Lysenko «Elizaveta Bem (1843 – 1914)», the magazine: «Antique Review», № 4, 2006, 26.

O. Lysenko «Choice of artist. Artist’s frame to the portraits and self-portrait». Collection of materials of international scientific seminar 23-24 November 2009 “Self-portrait and a portrait of the artist”, Moscow, 2010, p. 220.

O. Lysenko «Picture frames of Renaissance in the Hermitage», Hermitage News, № 6, 2011-2012, p. 3.

O. Lysenko «Picture frames from the Imperial Hermitage. To the history of creation of the gallery of the view of St. Petersburg.» Collection of papers of the scientific conference «Attribution, history and fortune of the monuments from the Imperial collections. (To the 100 anniversary of the birth of А.М.Кuchumov (1912-1993),  St.Petersburg, 2012, p. 232.

 I would like to thank Oksana for the time, trouble, and great generosity she has given to this project.