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Fine Art Appraiser Answers: What is Frieze?

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Fine Art AppraiserAccording to the Cambridge Dictionary, a “frieze” is a “narrow strip of decoration, often cut from stone or wood and usually placed at the top of a wall.”

It’s also interesting to note that there is a related definition of frieze. A “Frieze Group” is a mathematical concept, defined by Wikipedia as a system “to classify designs on two-dimensional surfaces that are repetitive in direction according to the symmetries of the pattern.” In short, the language of art and science meet with this definition as “frieze groups” are mathematical descriptions of categories of friezes. The world of mathematics has created seven frieze groups that capture the various styles and expressions of frieze.

What Makes Frieze So Appealing?

Frieze designs are appealing as the play upon the brain’s desire to find patterns and the importance of symmetry to human evolution. In short, the two key elements of frieze of patterns and symmetry trigger pleasant response inside the brain.

A Brief History of Frieze

Fine art appraisers say, it is safe to say that humans have been creating friezes for thousands of years. One of the most famous of all architectural friezes is that at the Parthenon in Athens. At nearly 2,500 years old, it is a spectacular example of not only a frieze relief but also a testament to the incredible artistic sophistication of ancient Greece. (Insert image of Parthenon frieze here). In ancient China and Japan examples of frieze predate those from ancient Greece. Recently in the America’s, scientist discovered a very large (26’ x 8’) and intact pre-Columbian frieze in Guatemala. Estimated to be nearly 1,500 years old, it tells the story of a Mayan ruler.

Frieze Today

Though seen from the earliest beginnings of human civilization, friezes have been expressed in textiles, pottery, and later in the Bronze Age in metalwork. But friezes are not limited to architecture or archeological sites; in contemporary America, it is very common that crown moldings in residences are frieze style and it is heavily used to accent furnishings. Various fashion houses make use of frieze motifs in their latest creations.

How to Appraise Frieze

There is no simple answer regarding how to appraise frieze. It depends on a myriad of factors that include the age of the piece, its condition, rarity, current market conditions and more. As with any other fine art piece, antique or heirloom, it is important to retain an experienced and reputable fine art appraiser. Because of the unique applications of frieze as a component of a larger price or as a stand-alone piece, the importance of engaging an art appraiser cannot be understated.

When considering a fine art appraisal expert it pays to ask for references, examine how deep is their experience and expertise in the specific item or items that you need to have evaluated and what professional designations or certification they hold.

We hope this brief overview of frieze was informative and helpful. At Kuehnert Appraisal & Consulting we are always interested in your comments or questions. Please feel free to post here, or you can contact us via email or phone.