I was recently scrolling through images of wallpapers in the collection and was surprised and delighted to see how many of them contained images of dogs. While dogs appear on wallpapers intended for adults as well as children, the imagery on papers for children is far more amusing and the focus of this blog. The early 20th century was the highpoint of children’s wallpaper design and many delightful wallpapers for children were created. Children’s papers at this time were educational in nature, and child experts thought imagery should be realistically rendered to help engage the child without being confusing. The following papers all show animals easily recognized by children, wonderfully illustrated and beautifully colored. Dogs were frequently used to illustrate nursery rhymes and ABCs. Hey Diddle Diddle, one of the earlier children’s papers by Walter Crane has characters illustrating the verse, with the little dog laughing to see such a sight. Another much later paper designed by William Wegman shows his very patient weimaraners forming the letters of the alphabet. The “Hunting” frieze by Cecil Aldin shows a long parade of horses, dogs and carriages, though what is being hunted remains a mystery. Shown is one panel from a set of seven, which when joined end to end creates a border 35 feet long with no repeat. Kindergarten Cut-outs was very innovative in that it was designed to decorate as well as entertain a child. The animal shapes could be cut out and pinned to a fabric wallcovering. This was lithograph printed with oil colors so could be wiped clean. The Child World illustrates a child utopia, where each child is shown with a beloved animal in a bucolic setting. This is one panel from a set of two which create a border 10 feet long without repeating. The two panel set can be repeated indefinitely.
Frieze, The Child World. Germany, 1912. Gift of Louis Risner, 1982-36-3; The "Hunting" frieze, designed by Cecil Aldin. England, 1905.Gift of Standard Coated Products, 1975-2-5-g; Alphabet border, designed by William Wegman. USA, 1993. Gift of A/D Gallery, 1996-53-1; Hey Diddle, Diddle, designed by Walter Crane, London, 1876. Gift of Essex Institute, 1947-25-3; Kindergarten Cut-outs, Made by the Schmitz-Horning Co. Gift of Wallpaper Council, Inc., 1960-163-36.