A striking Gothic Revival wallpaper with a fairly large repeat, made possible by the woodblock printing. Inspired by Gothic cathedral architecture this design contains two different views: one showing a very deep perspective looking through a chamber with vaulted ceilings, into another with columns, and arched windows and doors, while the other view is a shallower perspective showing large arched windows and what appears to be a pulpit. This is printed in a monochrome brown/tan colorway. The full effect of the trompe l’oeil has been reduced somewhat as some of the highlights on this design were printed with a lead white pigment, which has oxidized over time and turned black.

It is interesting to note that even though architect A.W.N. Pugin (British, 1812-1852) and other design reformers were advocating against these Gothic-style wallpapers, citing their inappropriate use of Gothic imagery and the false illusion created by the shading and perspective, between the years 1837 and 1844, Jeffrey & Co., a high-end manufacturer in London, produced at least twenty-two different versions of these Gothic-style papers. Pugin believed it was fine to ornament your walls but advocated flat patterns that enhanced the two-dimensional nature of the wall.

Personally, I think these papers are great. I love the trompe l’oeil aspect as it visually enlarges the size of a room, and the designs can add architectural interest where none may exist.

Greg Herringshaw is the Assistant Curator in Wallcoverings

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