Since I was fortunate enough to have my blog posted on July 4 I thought I would write about something holiday specific. Not always an easy task as wallpaper is a long-term commitment, so there are few papers that display seasonal activities or special holidays. In years past I’ve written about the American War of Independence scenic wallpaper by Zuber, and a pattern with firecrackers called 1776/1976 by Hubbell Pierce. This Fourth of July I am blogging about a mid-century wallpaper celebrating leisure activities produced shortly after World War II, when wallpaper designs got a major update.

During the war years there was a moratorium on new wallpaper designs and manufacturers were forced to keep printing the same designs for years. This moratorium was lifted in November 1945 and designers and manufacturers began gearing up for their new collections. It took about a year to create these new collections with the big release date set for January 1947. Wallpapers in the post-war years took on a decidedly different look, featuring many lighthearted designs meant to amuse and help people unwind. Today’s paper is a classic example, focusing on leisure activities in one’s own backyard. Central to the festivities is the man in the chef’s hat mixing cocktails on his rolling cart. He stands next to an outdoor fireplace containing a large vat. There is a bucket of corn waiting to be shucked, while fresh fruit awaits on the picnic table. Nearby a bird frolics in the birdbath as melons ripen in the field. And a classic bistro table is set for two. No problem if the festivities extend into the evening hours as a nearby lamp will brighten things up. None of the colors are too harsh and the speckled background unifies all these different elements, creating a subtle background paper with a feel-good theme.

Happy Fourth of July everybody!

Greg Herringshaw is the Assistant Curator for Wallcoverings

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