I wanted to share this unusual trompe l’oeil drapery wallpaper, where a length of fabric swags slightly then twists around another fabric swag, creating a diaper or trellis-like pattern. The fabric is adorned with a lace trim and tassels made of strung pearls. The bottom section of this panel is a wide border that shows the bottom of the curtain panels ending in graceful curves, centering on a pineapple finial. The repeating finials sit atop a broken pediment-type band that echoes the swags of the fabric. The drapery and tassels are printed over a brown background ornamented with stylized floral and anthemion motifs. The full drapery panel is then framed by an applied border, printed in matching colors, containing a row of strung beads followed by alternating stylized floral and foliate motifs on a striped ground. When you stop to analyze the different parts, there is a lot going on, but when you step back and take in the overall effect, it doesn’t look overly busy.

Drapery papers could be installed in a couple different ways. They would typically start beneath the crown molding and continue down the wall to the chair rail, or depending on the use and furnishings of a room, could also extend down to the baseboards. Installing the panels above a chair rail offered some protection for the rather fragile block-printed wallpapers.

I have always found the drapery in this wallpaper to be a little awkward or stiff, but have been similarly fascinated by the exquisite rendering of the lace. The representation of the positive and negative aspects of the lace, and the way the printed shadows follow the overlapping transparency of the material, makes it truly believable. The strung pearl tassels add a further element of luxury, and maybe a little exoticism.

Greg Herringshaw is the Assistant Curator in Wallcoverings.

2 thoughts on “Draping the Walls

Another stunning presentation of yours well worthy of archiving. It’s often forgotten how popular a blue & brown combination was in early C19 décor – making your submittal all that more rare and wonderous to see – thank you.
And you’re quite right about the lace element….absolutely mesmerizing!

Agree with the previous comment. Your object selection is wonderful, and the lace is mesmerizing. Thanks.

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