Wallpapers were rarely designed to be used alone, and fashions in wall treatments changed frequently. In the early twentieth century, wall treatments began to get simpler, consisting of a wallpaper and wide border, or frieze, and it remained popular to paper ceilings into the 1950s.
This turf design is part of a matching set of wallpaper and frieze. The wallpaper contains an allover pattern of green turf, which continues up into the landscape frieze. As the grass reaches the frieze it is shown going to seed, revealing a vast landscape with a river or small pond, large trees, and iris blooms. The deep perspective used in most landscape friezes helped to visually enlarge a room.
Beginning around 1895, it was common to purchase wallpaper in matching sets containing a wallpaper, frieze, and ceiling paper which created a continuity throughout the room and simplified the selection process. The sidewall was frequently the darkest in color, the ceiling the lightest shade, and the frieze somewhere in between. There were still many decorating conventions at this time, including the appropriateness of certain papers to certain rooms. Landscape friezes were usually recommended for dining rooms, halls, and libraries. A repeating pattern of turf is unusual, and most likely would be used in a more casual setting. If the walls of the dining or breakfast room were covered with this wallpaper it would make every meal feel like a picnic.
Greg Herringshaw is the Assistant Curator in Wallcoverings.