Another Floral Wallpaper

Floral designs make up the largest grouping of wallpapers in the Museum’s collection by far. Many of the gilded embossed leathers, some of the oldest wallcoverings in the collection dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, contain repeating floral patterns and I would guess that every style and period has representative samples in the collection. While the style in which they have been rendered varies greatly over time, they have never fallen out of fashion. Talk about longevity!
wallpaper, poppy, Ben Morris, Hubbell Pierce, floral

Beauty in Form, and Color

Beauty is an interesting take on a stripe design. The design is composed of thin stripes in brilliant shades of green creating silhouettes of women's faces, alternately facing left then right. The overall effect is a wide stripe or column of green against a white background. Papers of this sort are used to create a very mod interior, frequently pasted on a single focal wall, offset by the remaining walls in white with coordinating furnishings.
Werner Berges, wallpaper, Pop Art, female, figure

Happy Birthday Ettore

Arabia Felix was quite unique for the time in which it was created as it is nearly 10 feet in length and lacks a vertical repeat. The design contains cloud-like shapes totally void of color against a printed background that shades from a darker spotted blue at the top to white at the bottom. The density of the cloud shapes is greatest where the background is darkest, becoming less dense as the background color decreases, disappearing totally where the background ceases to have color towards the bottom of the wallpaper.
wallpaper, Memphis, Ettore Sottsass

Clean and Beautiful: Sanitary Wallpapers

The Oritani frieze is one of a number of wallpapers in the Cooper-Hewitt collection that contain a printed inscription in the selvedge that reads: "Antiseptic Pat'd 8-9-04". This was a patent filed by the William Campbell Wall Paper Company in 1904 that was said to prevent the absorption of germs into the wallpaper’s pigment. This patent notification appeared mostly on children’s wallpapers but the process was also used on papers for more general use.
wallpaper, border, frieze, sanitary, washable, Egli, Campbell, Oritani

A Whole Lot of Pattern Going On

Historically, wallpapers were rarely designed to be used alone, and wallpapers would always have been paired with at least one border. Along with the multiple patterns on the wall it was also fashionable to paper ceilings from about 1850 up into the 1950s. The use of a single wallpaper in a room, or just papering one wall, is a fairly recent notion.
wallpaper, companion, floral, stripe, pattern, Art Deco, French

Popeye the Sailor

This children’s wallpaper illustrates characters from Thimble Theatre. Along with Popeye, Olive Oyl and Swee’Pea, the paper also shows Bluto (forever Popeye’s nemesis), Poopdeck Pappy (Popeye’s father), and Wimpy (who will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.) The scenes are arranged in a traditional figural landscape-style format with scenes taking place both indoors and out.
wallpaper, popeye the sailor, Children, Olive Oyl

Hand painted wallpaper ornaments

This framed landscape paper dates to the mid-19th Century. The production of this design involves a number of different techniques. The background is combed or dragged in a wood grain pattern resembling oak; the landscape scene is hand painted, and the oval picture frame is woodblock-printed. Papers with a printed frieze, or ornament, such as this, that would repeat horizontally but not vertically were usually printed in eight to twelve foot lengths, which allowed some flexibility to accommodate different ceiling heights.
wallpaper, landscape, deer, woodblock, handpainted, wood grain

Wallpapers in Tie-dye

Tie-dye wallpaper shows the influence of pop culture on the decorative arts. Designed and produced by Barbara White in 1958, this handmade paper was produced using only rice paper and Higgins inks. These designs were created by manipulating the ink with added moisture. The paper was placed on a glass surface, then moistened. The colors were applied with a brush, then the paper was strategically folded over onto itself, then squeezed to spread and blend the colors. It was then unfolded and left to dry. These were also created in matched sets of wallpapers and borders.
wallpaper, tie-dye, Higgins ink, molded paper

French Revolution Wallpapers

This is an example of wallpaper used as propaganda. This is a paper produced during the French Revolution, woodblock-printed ca. 1792. The citizens of France felt that the Revolution could not be won just by fighting in political circles or on the battlefield. They felt it needed to be reinforced on the domestic front as well and had to occur in the ordinary citizen’s everyday life. It was believed that symbols had a powerful effect on the spirit and could strengthen the validity of the new principles.
wallpaper, French revolution, liberty cap, tri-color ribbon

Views of the American War of Independence

Views of the American War of Independence was first printed by Zuber in 1852. This paper illustrates the American Revolution in four scenes using the background imagery from an earlier scenic wallpaper called Views of North America first printed by Zuber in 1834. All of the scenes for North America were modifications of original drawings by naturalist painter J. Milbert in 1828, whose drawings illustrate the new practice of showing realistic renderings of landscapes rather than one composed in a studio.
wallpaper, scenic, panorama, papier peint, George Washington, American Revolution