For artworks and photography, bespoke framing is an essential part of many incredible works of art, to the point that many pieces cannot be imagined without the ornamental frames that guide the eye and create a sense of grandeur and mood.
The nature of how painting has evolved makes it difficult to find a true origin point for the picture frame, but arguably one of the very first according to Picture Framing Magazine was those that surrounded the portraits of mummies in the later eras of Ancient Egypt.
Fayum mummy portraits were designed to be placed atop the heads of a mummified person, and the wrappings as part of the embalming process worked as a makeshift picture frame, showing a detail of a typically upper-class Egyptian person who would then be buried in a tomb.
Outside of this, early pottery painters would use physical framing borders not to surround a particular work of art but instead to divide a collage of different scenes. It would take until the 13th century before carved frames as they are used today would be seen.
Early panel paintings were small, and both the wooden panel and the ornamental frame would be made out of one piece of wood, resembling a rudimentary tray that would then have gesso and gold paint applied to it before the painting was made.
This method, whilst it did work, was filled with issues. It was very expensive and left no room for error, with a mistake at either the carving, gessoing or painting stages ruining the entire work of art.
As well as this, it could not be scaled very efficiently, as it all needed to be made with one piece of wood and thus bigger paintings would get increasingly expensive.
Eventually, this led to the development of engaged frames which were made using moulding strips attached to a flat wooden panel that worked in the same way as the old panels but was far cheaper and quicker to make.