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Sansovino frame

Associated with Venice and the Veneto of the second half of the 16th century, Sansovino frames are characterised by carved overlapping scrolls, garlands of fruit, masks, broken pediments, and sometimes cherubs.

Sansovino frames take their name from the Italian architect and sculptor Jacopo Sansovino (1486–1570) who was responsible for some of Venice’s finest Renaissance buildings, including the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana.

Their design marked a change in the way frames were conceived, as frame makers experimented with traditional architectural forms. However, Sansovino’s name was not attributed to this elaborate style of picture frame until the late 19th century, more than three centuries after his death – resulting in a misleading connection between the two.

Examples of this style of frame in the collection include the frame surrounding Titian’s ‘Portrait of Girolamo Fracastoro’.