The great degree of realism achieved in this wallpaper border was created with the use of relatively few (about ten) colors. To achieve a true sense of depth in any given motif, be it a flower or drapery, the design needs to be printed in five to six different shades, with a different wood block for each color. So printing a bouquet, with an assortment of flowers, can add up to a lot of woodblocks. A greater number of woodblocks usually generated a higher retail cost as it took additional time and expertise to carve and print a block for each of the colors with precision. While a number of different motifs can share colors for highlights and shadows it is not uncommon for a block printed wallpaper to contain thirty or more colors. In this case, five different colors were used to print the drapery, while three colors were used to create the lace. The same three colors were again used to print the strung pearls. The same white was used as the highlight color for each of these motifs.
This border panel would have been used at the bottom of the papered wall, most likely above the chair rail or dado panel. A similar pleated fabric and lace composition would have continued in the drapery sidewall paper as can be seen in another paper in the Museum’s collection in a different colorway. The border would have finished off the drapery design at the bottom. There is a third piece of wallpaper in the collection that shows the drapery and sidewall papers used together. The fashion for draped walls became popular when decorator team of Charles Percier and Pierre-François Léonard Fontaine began covering walls with silk fabrics in the early years of the nineteenth century. This trend was quickly realized by wallpaper manufacturers who soon began producing a variety of drapery wallpapers.