Murals became a fashionable wall decoration in the mid-twentieth century. Murals differ slightly from scenic wallpapers in that most were designed to cover a single wall, or to separate or highlight a section of a larger wall, where scenic wallpapers were designed to run continuously around a room. Many mural designs could also be continuous by combining multiple sets.

Colonnade is a good example of a mid-20th-century scenic wallpaper. Designed in the historic style, the central element is the classically inspired Colonnade set within a wooded landscape, complete with lakes and mountains. Colonnade is the first and only screen-printed scenic wallpaper in the museum collection, as well as being one of the earlier examples of this technique. One characteristic feature of Hunken papers is the combination of screen-printing with airbrushing, which in this design can be seen in the darker shadows. This unusual and rare combination of techniques was used on many—if not all—of the Hunken scenics. The George J. Hunken Company operated from 1912 to 1956 in Brooklyn, New York, and began printing scenic wallpapers as early as 1931 while also producing a range of repeating patterns.

The first commercially produced screen-printed wallpapers were introduced around 1938, but were not available on a large scale until after the war. Murals became a fashionable wall decoration in the mid-twentieth century. Murals differ slightly from scenic wallpapers in that most were designed to cover a single wall, or to separate or highlight a section of a larger wall, where scenic wallpapers were designed to run continuously around a room. Many mural designs could also be continuous by combining multiple sets.

Scenic wallpapers were first produced around 1804 and remained popular with new designs being introduced until about 1865. The Zuber company is still printing scenic papers today, using the original woodblocks.

4 thoughts on “Innovative Printers in Brooklyn

I love getting these emails about the object of the day! (Unfortunately today’s does not seem to contain a visual?) Many thanks for producing them. 🙂

I am in wonderland! Can’t leave William Morris. I must leave but I will be back, how could I not. Cb

I just rented an apartment in an 1892 house that has been divided into apartments, and the bedroom closet interiors are all covered in George J Hunken Co wallpaper. Not this one but a floral design. It looks to be something from the 1930s to 1940s. Thank you for this article!

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