Before we get into the framing portion of this piece, Heather wanted to share a little bit of history behind the art. In the medieval and early modern eras (ca. 1200-1600), a new type of funeral art had appeared in western Europe.
Tombs inside churches, most often of wealthy and powerful people, were topped with large decorative stone or brass plaques, which had replaced the traditional three dimensional alabaster or other stone sculpture.
These brasses served as the memorials to the men and women who lay beneath and they sometimes held symbols or other visual references of their status and society.
Brass had a number of advantages over alabaster figures and incised stone slabs on church floors. The metal was durable and capable of taking engravings, and since it was flat, it could be placed anywhere in the church. In addition, these brass figures did not have to be full-sized portraits.
Brass rubbings were originally created by laying a sheet of butcher's paper over the piece and rubbing the paper with a waxy glob of black crayon. Later and, in certain areas, are now made using a heavy duty black almost velvety paper material and are rubbed with gold, silver, or bronze crayons. With the popularity of brass rubbings, they slowly wear away the brass, resulting in the banning of rubbings in most places.
This particular piece is just one of the many this local Montanan family has collected and researched over the years.