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Exhibition of empty picture frames

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Girolamo Fracastoro Titian, about 1528, which will go on show in a new exhibition celebrating the tradition of ornate 16th century Sansovino frames (National Gallery/PA)

Girolamo Fracastoro Titian, about 1528, which will go on show in a new exhibition celebrating the tradition of ornate 16th century Sansovino frames (National Gallery/PA)

Girolamo Fracastoro Titian, about 1528, which will go on show in a new exhibition celebrating the tradition of ornate 16th century Sansovino frames (National Gallery/PA)

An exhibition of empty picture frames will go on show at the National Gallery next year.

The show, celebrating the tradition of ornate 16th century Sansovino frames, will include around 30 exhibits with only two containing a painting.

The frames, which originated in Venice, are known for their elaborate style and are regularly decorated with carved masks, animals and fruit.

Caroline Campbell, from the central London gallery, said she hoped the exhibition would allow visitors "to look beyond the picture" and notice the "frames of extraordinary exuberance ".

She said she wanted people to " look at the frame that lines it and to consider these as beautiful, expressive and wonderfully crafted objects in their own right".

She added: "I think we're very proud at the National Gallery of always trying to take our visitors in new directions, of encouraging them to look at the unfamiliar as well as the familiar and we hope that after the exhibition the visitors will not just see a frame as a container for a painting but a wonderfully produced and significant object in its own right".

The show, which will open in April, is one of a raft of newly announced exhibitions including a series of portraits by Spanish artist Goya and the first UK showing of work by the obscure Norwegian artist Peder Balke.

The gallery also announced it was introducing a membership scheme for the first time which would allow art lovers unlimited access to exhibitions and entry to other events.

Its director Dr Nicholas Penny said: "By becoming a member you will be helping us preserve for posterity some of the greatest of all European paintings, plus you will ensure that our educational and outreach programmes can continue to inspire children and adults alike for generations to come."

PA Media