In Focus

The Wendy and Emery Reves Frame Collection

Emery Reves's taste in frames was exceptional and his frame collection is extremely fine and diverse. It contains examples from England, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. However, its great strength is in French frames. And while his wife appreciated them, frames were the passion of Emery Reves. He seems to have become interested in the subject as part of collecting paintings. Since he purchased many of the paintings in London, it was only natural for him to acquire frames in that city as well. To that end, the renowned firm of Arnold Wiggins and Sons, Ltd. was pivotal. Ever inquisitive, Emery Reves occasionally examined frames offered by other dealers. In the immediate postwar period, Reves bought a whole group of frames from Georges Bac, who was one of the finest dealers at that time in Paris. However, it was through Wiggins in London that he acquired the vast majority of his collection. A receipt in the DMA Archives shows the astonishing number of frames, twenty-nine in total, bought on a single occasion at the London dealer Arnold Wiggins & Sons.

Long before frame connoisseurship was of interest to collectors or art historians, Emery Reves had gained great knowledge in this specialty. Wiggins employees who knew Reves note that when in London he typically spent entire days examining frames and speaking with craftsmen. This rapport resulted in especially fine frames being put aside for Reves's inspection before they were offered to others. For many years, Reves kept all his frame purchases in storage at Wiggins's warehouse. Only as paintings were acquired and subsequently reframed did the collection begin to find its way to Villa La Pausa. In 1971, the Wiggins firm was forced to move its warehouse, and Reves took this opportunity to remove the thirty frames stored in London to the south of France. Once at the villa, many of the frames were never used to surround paintings but were simply admired as great examples of the carver's art.

Adapted from

  • Meslay, Olivier and Martha MacLeod. From Chanel to Reves (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 2015), 31.
  • Dallas Museum of Art. Decorative Arts Highlights from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection. (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1995), 61.

Related Multimedia

Wendy Reves discusses collecting frames.

Fun Facts

  • Reves displayed frames as one might exhibit sculptures. He appears to have waited for a picture with the right dimensions to become available in order to highlight its merits with a remarkable frame. That he never cut down or spoiled any of the frames he purchased supports the notion that he considered each one a work of art in itself. Thanks to him, the Dallas Museum of Art possesses a remarkable collection of frames, some of which are exhibited empty as masterpieces in their own right on the walls of the staircase or on the mezzanine.