Friday, 23 October 2015

Emil Orlik and a Colnaghi wash mount on ebay


This is something by way of a public service announcement. I certainly don't think the dealer who currently has the Emil Orlik portrait etching for sale on British ebay deserves it. But take a look at the wash-mount round the etching, which the seller thinks needs replacing. This is certainly the type of mount that was used by the Bond St dealer Colnaghi before the first war and as such I think needs looking after and not destroying. Instinct told me to preserve a similar mount round a Verpilleux colour woodcut even though my framer wanted to replace it with the same kind of thing. It was only years later I discovered that Colnaghi had them made. Not very important perhaps and obviously I cannot be certain about this particular mount but I also own a portrait etching by William Strang with exactly the same kind of mount. What's not to like? I haven't checked to see whether Colnaghi was also Strang's dealer, and it hardly matters. What I am saying is this: apply caution when dealing with nice old mounts. They have history, too, and may be worth restoring not chucking out.


  1. I agree in principle that period frames, mounts, folders, etc. should be preserved if possible. The major caveat, though, is the likelihood or degree that they could adversely affect or damage the work of art (any more than it may have already done). If the mount is highly acidic (and I have no knowledge about Colnagahi's mounts), I would probably take it a framer, ask them to replace the backing and lay the top mount over some inert separation layer to keep it off of the print. I always retain the original folders that some prints come in, but I never keep the prints stored in those folders.

  2. With any old work in a mount it will be a case by case situation. I try to avoid buying prints in frames where I can anyway and remove the majority from the frame but frankly I think we can get too precious about these things and I tend to sometimes leave well alone if things are well mounted or framed. I think I behave responsibly but I do not always want to deny myself other pleasures on every occasion so things get left as they are. A print would have to be quite valuable for me personally to go to the lengths you describe here.

  3. I likewise try to avoid buying prints in frames and generally immediately unframed them if I do, both because the framing may not have used archival materials and for ease of storage. What wall space I have I save for paintings and drawings. In order to reframe a print, I agree with you that it would have to be extremely special or valuable. But the issue came up because you were partial to Conagahi's mount. I can see value in preserving the mount, but unless you boughtt the piece primarily for the mount, the long-term preservation of the print should always be an important consideration.