This style of paper is referred to as a figural landscape or landscape figures. Wallpapers in this genre usually contain three to four different landscape views, quite often centered on a theme. They can focus on harbor views, the hunt, or more humble scenes such as this one, which might be called The Homecoming, or All in a Day’s Work. The main scene shows a young woman returning from a journey, being embraced by her supposed family, while a young man leads a loaded mule. Another view shows a group of woman doing laundry by a stream, which meanders through each of the different views. A third scene shows two women and two children involved in some kind of activity, and slightly down the path are two boys with a small cage, possibly entertaining themselves with a pet rabbit.
This is printed in three colors: two shades of brown and off-white on a taupe ground, producing a very warm monochrome palette. It is always interesting to note on these landscape papers how the different scenes merge together, with the treetops in one scene becoming the grass or ground cover in another. And how each of the landscape views just kind of floats in space but given the delicate balance doesn’t feel awkward.
These landscape figures were popular during the mid-nineteenth century and probably grew out of the popularity of the scenic wallpaper, but designed in a repeating format and smaller scale to accommodate more modest homes. They are also similar in style to many of the toile fabrics, copper plate prints popular from the late eighteenth century into the early years of the nineteenth century. The perspective given in the landscape views would add depth to the wall and would certainly to be a conversation starter.