The frame as art: Guernsey's to offer Eli Wilner's personal collection
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The frame as art: Guernsey's to offer Eli Wilner's personal collection
Eli Wilner Frame, 18th Century Style Ex. Picasso. Estimate $20,000 - $25,000.

NEW YORK, NY.- In celebration of the 40th year of Eli Wilner & Company, Guernsey's is preparing for a major auction of a magnificent picture frame collection assembled through the decades by Eli Wilner. The four hundred and fifteen lot auction will be conducted on February 19 online. The event will serve both as a tutorial on frame styles and a demonstration of the incredible craftsmanship of the Eli Wilner & Company Atelier. Many of the original frames featured in this sale are based on specific antique and historic frames, while others are unique Wilner designs. Wilner frames exhibit meticulous craftsmanship and painstaking detail resulting in unmatched quality. When comparing an 18th, 19th, or 20th century frame with a Wilner frame – the two are virtually indistinguishable. A percentage of the sale proceeds will be donated to support several organizations undertaking frame research in prominent American museums.

Eli Wilner & Company has been responsible for the framing of over 10,000 works of art in many of the world’s most important institutions. More than two dozen Wilner frames hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with equal numbers on display both at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the White House. Indeed, Wilner has crafted magnificent frames for several hundred art museums throughout the world. Further examples of the centuries-old craftsmanship employed by Eli Wilner & Company can also be found in the residences of many prominent art collectors and in many corporate headquarters.

In excellent condition, many frames to be offered at auction have important provenances having been previously loaned to prestigious museums and institutions including The New-York Historical Society, the Guggenheim Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art and Mt. Vernon. Christie’s and Sotheby’s have borrowed a number of the frames in this collection to display and enhance important paintings. For example, the frame that Sotheby’s chose to showcase Vincent van Gogh’s Paysage sous un Ciel Mouvementé is included in the auction. That van Gogh painting sold for $54 million! The auction will also contain frames formerly used on significant works by Kandinsky, Magritte, Monet, O’Keeffe, Picasso and Norman Rockwell, among many others. Or, inasmuch as some view these frames as “masterpieces in and of themselves,” simply add a mirror or nest them on the wall. It should be noted that these frames can often be adapted or altered to accommodate artwork of different dimensions, either by the addition of liners or with the re-sizing capabilities of the Eli Wilner Frame Restoration Studio.

Perhaps Wilner’s greatest framing accomplishment came when it was commissioned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to create a magnificent frame for the Museum’s 1851 masterpiece Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze. The astounding 14 by 23-foot gold-leafed frame, with a remarkable 12-foot hand-carved 1776 crest, surrounds the Met’s largest and most visited painting.

Inquiries about this unprecedented, upcoming auction should be directed to Guernsey's (212-794-2280,, the New York-based auction house known for such events as the landmark Cold War auction of artwork from the Soviet Union, the Titanic sale, auctions of recovered collections of Holocaust-related art and the John F. Kennedy auctions.

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