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Anonymous, “Tramp Art” Frame with Photograph

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I’ve long loved the carved frames and furniture commonly known by the umbrella term tramp art. The notched and tiered carvings can be highly ornate. (What a treat it would have been to see the 2017–2018 tramp art exhibition at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe!) I was pleased to come across this simple four-tiered frame in a second-hand shop in Trieste, Italy. The photo’s inscription reads that it was taken by a G. Bonivento at Piazza Ninfea, 3, in the town of Pola. (The city was part of Italy from 1918 to 1947 and today is situated in Croatia.) We have no clue to the anonymous frame carver’s identity, or of the seemingly well-to-do couple perfectly poised for their wedding portrait. What became of them in their alternate world—promenading along the streets of Trieste in their smart attire, stopping in a bookstore or for an aperitif—creating a lifetime together in the turmoil of twentieth century Europe?

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