I have always loved these Rococo-style wallpaper designs with their large scale boldness, trompe l’oeil effects, and attention to detail. This paper is rather late in date for a Rococo wallpaper but it was a new design in 1901 as noted by the “Patented January 8, 1901” printed in the selvedge. The Rococo style was popularized in the mid-eighteenth century, then saw a revival during the mid-nineteenth century.
This paper is just slightly more than one repeat, which means the repeat is close to forty inches. For comparison, on a typical machine-printed paper the repeat is eighteen inches. The very robust scrolling and layering of the acanthus leaves along with the printed highlights and shadows creates a great sense of depth. It really creates the look and feel of an architectural panel. The acanthus leaves and floral bouquets all branch off from the ogival framework which is connected to the next framework by a quatrefoil.
The design and execution of this paper is quite extraordinary. It is printed in a monochrome pink colorway with gray accents on a polished white ground, with four shades of pink and two gray. At least one woodblock is needed to print each color. Given the long repeat of this design and the prominence of say, the light pink color, multiple blocks would be needed to print this pink shade. A polished ground gives the appearance of satin which is achieved by applying talc to the surface then polishing with stiff brushes. The strung beads, curling around the acanthus, appear to be in the round, reflecting some unseen light. Along with the bold detailing printed on the foliage, the space between the architectural framework is printed with two different fill patterns, making the framework appear more substantial.
This wallpaper design is on view in the Cooper Hewitt’s Immersion Room where it can be seen full-scale and in repeat.