Hanging Pictures in Old Houses

It is possible to hang several pictures on a wall using picture hooks. Here, nine pictures are hung from three picture hooks. Each picture has its own wire leading to the hook. The correct braided brass wire with a steel core is not particularly visible, especially when seen against wallpaper, compared to other types of wire. To plan this sort of picture arrangement, start by laying out the pictures on the floor, and then measure the wire lengths from there.

Though the Victorians quite liked the look of paintings hanging angled off the wall, especially at higher positions on the wall, modern eyes prefer the paintings to sit flat against the wall, regardless of the height on the wall.

If you attach the picture wire to the back of the painting as high as it can be attached, the painting will hang flatter. If you use the original eye screws on an old painting, which are usually found half way down the sides of the back of the picture, then the painting will hang outward from the wall at the awkward (but Victorian approved!) angle.

There is a useful tip to prevent this awkward hanging angle, if you are trying to hang an old painting that has a wooden picture frame, and then you can use the old eye screws to attach the new picture wire.

Useful Tip: Attach the new picture wire to the old eye screws on the back of the painting, then adjust the wire for the correct height for the painting to hang from the picture rail. Then you can gently lay the picture face down on a carpeted surface, and gently pull the picture wire taut (along the floor) in a “V” shape as if it was hanging from the picture hook. Then put a fine desk staple (NOT from a staple gun) into the back of the wood frame, bridging over the picture wire, where it leaves the top of the framed painting. When hung back on the wall this will easily prevent the picture from falling forward on the wall.

Large paintings or mirrors are usually hung from two hooks and two pieces of wire, for both visual balance, and for greater security with heavy items. Picture wire comes in various strengths for heavier pictures. It is hardly visible when seen against wallpaper. Wallpaper: “Vine” by William Morris, from Charles Rupert Designs

Picture mouldings and hooks were popular through the 1920’s, but declined in popularity by the 1940’s and 50’s.

Because of their practicality, and easily added architectural detail, picture mouldings protect your walls from damage and allow your favourite artwork to be easily rearranged.

Both homes and art galleries are once again using this sensible arrangement for hanging pictures.

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