This very high-quality wallcovering, produced by the New York firm Leissner & Louis, ca. 1872-78, is woodblock-printed on embossed paper, demonstrating a well-executed design and of equal quality print.

A note on this object states “From Bush House, Salem, OR, built 1877-78,” which may have been written on the back of the wallpaper, however, the piece has been lined with fabric and the back is no longer visible. The Bush House in Salem, Oregon was once the estate of banker and newspaper owner, Asahel Bush, which he built and shared with his wife and four children. Now a museum, one can visit this preserved example of Victorian decorative ideals and see this sidewall paper displayed on the walls in their formal sitting room.http://www.oregonlink.com/bush_house/piano_closeup.html

This wallpaper is a fine example of high Victorian style and reflects the decorative ideals and aesthetic consciousness of the period. The details and patterning of the print would have been expensive to produce and demonstrates an ornamental wealth that the upper class often displayed through the decorated public and private spaces in their homes.

The print’s design demonstrates a Japonaiserie influence, combining softly blooming leaves and flowers drawn in pure outline and filled with delicate and dreamy tints of pastel pink, blue, cream and gray color and then layered over circular pattern filled shapes. The patterning is outlined in metallic gold and the background layered with metallic silver over cream ground. Oriental motifs mingling with peonies and cherry blossoms create an abstraction of nature that allows the eye to wander around the controlled, conventionalized wall decoration without distraction.

One can imagine sitting in a Victorian parlor during the late 19th century, listening to the piano or reading in an overstuffed chair, the flowering wallcovering creating a subdued environment inside the safety of the home, and distracting from the real wildness of the nature outside.

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