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In the 19th century in particular, a wide variety of stretcher frames were developed or reworked from stenter frames to stretch and re-stretch the textile picture carriers (see frames with wooden nail holes).

The stretcher frame (in the 19th century also called a key frame, frame with keys or blind frame with wedges) is a slotted frame that can be enlarged (wedged out) by wedges for re-tensioning the painted canvas ( canvas painting ). The entire creation of a canvas painting, from the primer to the varnish, takes place on the stretcher. It is believed that it originated in the Franco-Dutch area. The stretcher frame is a further development of the tenter frame . Some old stretcher frames show traces of work (wooden nail holes) from which it can be concluded that they were formerly stenter frames that were later reworked into stretcher frames.


Canvas on a stretched frame
The back of a stretched canvas frame
Tension the frame: The wedges are inserted into the slots provided.
... and hit it with a hammer until the canvas has the necessary tension.

The stretcher is mentioned as a novelty in the Dictionaire by Antoine-Joseph Pernety in 1757 . The height of its development was in the 19th century, when new stretcher frame shapes were invented and in some cases also patented. There have been standardized stretcher frame sizes since the middle of the 19th century; In the 20th century, the machine-made stretcher bars often had printed numbers indicating their length. In the south, stretcher frames were mostly made from spruce wood, and occasionally from oak wood in the north.

Historical fastenings of the textile picture carrier on the stretcher (hand-forged nail, wooden nail, staple).

The textile picture carriers were initially nailed to the stretcher frame with hand-forged nails, wooden nails or staples, later with machine-made nails and more recently with staples.

In the embroidery of the stretcher comes as a hoop is used, however, after completion of the work removed.


Stretcher frames are available in different widths, thicknesses and different profile formats. As a rule, they are made of softwood and, for large to very large formats up to about 6 m in length, also made of aluminum. Due to regional and historical traditions, there are different constructions and types of wood used depending on the country of origin.

So that the stretcher frames do not warp (skew) when the canvas is more tightly tensioned, larger stretcher frame formats are provided with cross struts or crosses


  • Ingo Sandner: Conservation of paintings and wooden sculptures . Callwey, Pennsylvania 2009.
  • EW Kudrjawzew: The technique of painting restoration . EA Seemann, Leipzig 1945
  • Knut Nicolaus: Handbook of painting studies . DuMont Buchverlag, Cologne 2003, ISBN 3-8321-7288-2

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Antoine Joseph Pernety: Dictionaire portatif de peinture, sculpture et gravure . Paris 1757.
  2. Knut Nicolaus: DuMont's image lexicon for determining paintings . DuMont Buchverlag, Cologne 1982, ISBN 3-7701-1243-1 .

Web links

Commons : Stretcher  - collection of pictures, videos, and audio files