New Life for Daybreak

Posted on April 23, 2022


My client grew up with his mother’s framed Maxfield Parrish print (Daybreak, 1922) in their home. It’s regarded as the most popular art print of the 20th century based on the number of prints made – one for every four American homes. But now the dated gold frame was coming apart at the corners. Without a mat, the print was against the regular glass which allowed condensation to ripple it, while years of UV light had faded the colors, especially the warm ones.  William came to me for a new frame, seen here:

The following image is the original piece and you can see that my client’s print is missing the purples in the distant mountains, the rosy light hitting the columns and the green of the lake. The corrugated cardboard behind it turned the paper browner and more brittle by chemically burning it over the years. Sadly, the existing frame was damaging the print instead of protecting it.

For its new frame, we picked a cassetta profile that was at home around the neo-classicism Parrish is known for. As with all my frames, I joined it with dovetail keys and corner splines for very durable corners.

I distressed it, gave it an antique patina over a dark brown espresso stain (an in-house mixture of brown oak and ebony stains) that blends with the deep shadow colors now in the print. A 1″ tan cotton mat blends with the browned paper color now seen in the highlights and provides a stripe of visual breathing room around the print while it keeps the new UV filtering anti-reflective glass from contacting it.

The damage done to it was cumulative and irreversible, but the new frame and materials will protect it from future damage and keep this treasured memory from my client’s upbringing alive every day. After living with it for 3 months now, William was still very happy with the new frame, telling me it catches his eye at least 4-5 times a day and brings a smile to his face every time.