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This beautiful small oval picture frame, created in the late 1900s during the Art Nouveau movement (pre-Art Deco), is a pyrographic work of art at its simplistic best.
Historically known as pokerwork, wood burning, fire painting, fire drawing, and even fire needle embroidery, pyrography is simply the art of writing/drawing with heat. The term “pyrography” was coined by the Victorians from the Greek words “pur” meaning fire and “graphos” meaning writing.
The ancient craft was popularized in Victorian times when specialized tools such as blow pipe etching and benzene devices were developed. American Victorian Ladies were enamored with this newly revived craft and found pyrography to be a fashionable hobby. And as business goes, Ladies’ magazines embraced the idle woman’s new pastime with fervor, and suppliers jumped at the chance to advertise their products.
Our small pre-Art Deco, Art Nouveau pyrographic oval picture frame is made from a light-colored, fine-grained, soft wood such as sycamore, basswood, beech or birch. Its Art Nouveau floral design is painted with touches of green highlighting the leaves and with blue on a flower or two. Surrounding the floral design and along the picture frame’s sides, are deep linear burn marks. The bold marks along with the floral design’s size work amazingly well with our small oval frame.
The frame measures 7 3/4” x 9 3/4” and holds one 4” x 6” photograph all of which hang on a wall. I suspect the frame is hand-made simply because the outside and inner ovals are a bit irregular and the back has a simple 4” x 6” frame with black turn-screws which hold the glass, photograph, and backing in place.
As you can imagine, pyrography is time-consuming, a perfect hobby to fill the long days of an idle Victorian lady.
The young woman’s photograph is not included.