Wallpaper: Gigi. Produced by Standard Coated Products, 1960. Gift of Jacqueline Rea.

Fascinated with French Poodles

One can’t go through the mid-century without being shown some poodles. French poodles appeared on numerous wallpapers during the 1950s. This is Gigi, printed on Super Sanitas. As you can see, Gigi is getting coiffed for a night out in Paris. The design contains 4 different scenes, showing Gigi getting coiffed and pedicured, having her hair set, and promenading with her beau in front of Club Chien. The color is predominantly pink, with accents of metallic silver and gold. Very 1950s! I always thought this fascination with the French Poodle was rather odd until I did some research. The standard poodle was the popular size of the 1930s and the one most frequently shown on wallpapers. At this time, a standard white started winning championships across Europe, and went on to win Best of Show at the Westminster Dog Show in 1935. This is the first time a poodle has ever won the top award at Madison Square Garden. The amazing publicity sparked an interest that has never subsided. By 1960, poodles had become the most popular breed in America, a title it held for many years. Also fueling the interest in all things European was the international travel boom following the war, with its new transatlantic flights.

Sanitas was an oil-impregnated fabric introduced in 1903 by the Standard Table Oil Cloth Company and was one of the early washable wallcoverings. The fabric support was initially soaked in oil pigments which created a very durable, washable surface. As technology advanced the manufacturer began treating the fabric with latex and the product was renamed Super Sanitas. There were very few washable wallpapers prior to 1934 so Sanitas was a major advancement in wallcoverings. Sanitas is still available today.
 

Museum Number: 
1989-48-1