In the early 19th Century England and the Continent exercised enormous influence over fashion in America. The gilded frames that academic artists chose for their portraits of the American aristocracy were imported from England or France, or they were copied by American craftsmen from European pattern books. The prevailing style on both sides of the Atlantic was Neo-Classicism, inspired by contemporary archeological discoveries among the ruins of ancient Rome.

In the 1820's Americans turned from ancient Rome as their source of inspiration to the world of ancient Greece. This shift in the prevailing taste was important in both architecture and interior design. It is well illustrated in the contrast between the delicate ornament of mirrors from the early years of the century and the mirrors of the 1830's, which have applied pilasters and corner blocks, giving them a weightier look. During the 1850’s and 1860’s, the surging expansion of America’s territory inspired artists to create wide, sweeping landscapes. This created a need for bold and ornate frames which could equal the power of the paintings of these artists inspired by the Hudson River School.

SimpleViewer requires JavaScript and the Flash Player. Get Flash