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Passepartout - the frame in the frame

The classic stylistic device of an expressive framing is the passepartout.

A passepartout combines aesthetics and protection

Kirchen, May 11, 2023 - One of the classic stylistic devices of an impressive framing is the passepartout. Together with the picture and the frame, the passepartout forms a unit that has a significant influence on the artistic quality and effect of the artwork. Whether a high-quality FineArt print, hand-signed watercolor or old family photo - there are many motifs worthy of framing . Imaginativeness and aesthetic flair are important in stylish framing. It's the little things that draw the viewer's eye to the picture - first and foremost the expressiveness of the motif is decisive, but also the light, the frame and the passepartout. In addition to the passepartout-cutout as well as the border width should the passepartout-colour, -strength and -type greatest attention. HALBE knows the subtleties of a stylish framing.


Passepartout for an expressive framing

The passepartout is something like a "picture's best friend" - it gives artwork a professional and classy look. A passepartout is a cardboard cut out in the middle that is placed between the picture and the glass. It prevents the artwork from sticking to the glass and protects, for example, watercolors, etchings and pastel drawings from possible color abrasion.

On the other hand, framing with a passepartout opens up many design possibilities for staging large and small works of art and emphasizing their radiance so that they remain in the viewer's memory. 

Mounts are truly multi-talented without competing with the image. The pictures literally come to life with a passepartout and can unfold perfectly in the frame, as they are literally lifted onto a "stage". There are passepartout cartons in different thicknesses, such as 1.5 mm or 3.0 mm. Many experts say that thicker mounts make pictures look more vivid and enhance the unique depth effect. 


Museum-quality passepartout cardbord is important 

Basically, a high-quality and age-resistant passepartout cardboard in museum quality should be used for framing, which is free of woody fibers, acid-free and extremely light-resistant. It prevents the artwork from "yellowing" and does not attack it over time, but forms an active protection against possible aging damage. Moreover, even after decades, a museum-quality passepartout still looks as beautiful as on the first day, as it does not change its colour  and does not form unsightly stains.

Passepartout size and cut decisive for effectiveness

The frame and the passepartout have the task of directing the viewer's eye to the image. For small-format images to be perceived at all, they need a disproportionately wide passepartout. Otherwise, a passepartout looks harmonious if the passepartout width is about 10 percent of the longest image side. Large format images can be framed with slightly narrower borders or without passepartout - but they look more imposing with a passepartout  .

The passepartout cut-out should be 5 mm smaller all around than the image so that it is perfectly covered by the passepartout . If the artwork has a signature, it should not be covered by the passepartout. If the artwork allows it, it is recommended to leave a 1 cm wide white margin on all sides, which will further enhance the image .

"The inner edges of the passepartout-cut are cut precisely at an angle of 45 degrees oblique, which enhances the impression of spatial depth of the image and the image unfolds a three-dimensionality," emphasizes David Halbe, managing director of HALBE GmbH. "The diagonal cut also avoids shadows on the image caused by unfavorable lighting conditions." 

For a visually appealing image presentation, there are various placement options for the passepartout-cutout. In the past, the "golden section" was the rule of thumb for passepartout-design - in this case, the lower passepartout margin was chosen significantly larger than the upper margin according to a mathematical formula. Today, and especially in modern works, the image is placed centrally or in the so-called optical center - i.e. the lower edge is a few millimeters wider than the upper. The optical center is perceived by the viewer as pleasant and prevents the artwork from visually running away downwards. Square motifs are often placed in the center. But landscape-format artworks also look impressive in a portrait-format frame if the passepartout cutout is placed in the upper half of the frame. 


Passepartout colour - A delicate touch is paramount 

You might think that with passepartout colour you can let your taste run free - far from it. White mounts are real "all-rounders" and go well with almost any work of art without pushing themselves to the fore.

But the small color differences of the white nuances decide on the perfect effect of a picture. Pure white mounts go perfectly with bright artworks and pictures on glossy papers. FineArt papers often look great with an old white passepartout as the slightly muted white tone exudes a certain warmth. Natural white mounts have a slightly yellowish hue and are particularly suitable for black and white images with a sepia character. 

But also gray or black passepartouts can set pictures perfectly in scene . Especially a frame made of black aluminum or oak profile with a black passepartout emphasizes the dark color components of a black and white picture on an elegant way and gives the artwork the desired presence. A light gray passepartout has a pleasantly light and neutral effect. It blends in perfectly as a demarcation between the picture and its surroundings. Particularly artistic works in pastel shades a light gray passepartout excellently puts in the "spotlight". Red, green or even other colored mounts are no longer in vogue. Plain white tones are timeless and always look classy.


Special works of art require a smart passepartout selection

Gallery and museums prefer for the protection of high-quality works of art a hinged passepartout in the framing, for example, to present them "free" without any cover in passepartout. With this type of mounting, the picture is shown to its full size - even the possibly special paper edges remain visible. With a folding-passepartout, the picture is positioned and fixed exactly in the passepartout cut-out on the back board of the passepartout , for example, with transparent photo corners. The passepartout is then folded shut - the "floating" image captivates the viewer's eye with the play of three-dimensionality.

"Framing with passepartout can hardly look more valuable and imposing," comments David Halbe. "When stored unframed, the images also remain in passepartout for protection. 


A passepartout adds a classy look to any image and prevents it from sticking to the glass.


VVkkJo-Y-1 There are passepartout cartons in different thicknesses, such as 1.5 mm or 3.0 mm. Experts say that thicker mounts make pictures look more vivid and increase the depth effect.


Hermann Will Square Frame Triple 3

If a work of art allows it, it is recommended to leave a 1 cm wide white margin on all sides to the passepartout cutout, which additionally enhances the image.



If the artwork has a signature, it should not be obscured by the passepartout.



Picture series should be framed uniformly and staged with the same passepartout board.


HALBE square picture over sideboard   T8o7uNDA-1

White mounts are true "all-rounders" - they are timeless and always look classy.



Passepartouts colored through in black can give black and white images a special presence.


N5d9oQ3f-1 Galleries and museums prefer a hingedpassepartout when framing artworks to protect them, for example, to present them "free" without any overlay at passepartout.


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