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  • Place of origin:

    England (printed)

  • Date:

    ca. 1780-1800 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Etching, coloured by hand with watercolours

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased through the Julie and Robert Breckman Print Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room 514a, case RK, shelf 9, box R

Single-sheet papers of this kind, with fanciful Western interpretations of Chinese motifs, were produced by British manufacturers from the 1760s. They were intended as a cheaper alternative to the fashionable, but expensive, hand-painted wallpapers imported from China by the East India Company. The composition suggests that this paper was designed to be joined end to end with identical sheets to form a frieze-like decoration, possibly for a music room.

Physical description

An unused oblong sheet of wallpaper with a song-bird in a cage on the left and an unidentified object (perhaps a drum, tambourine or cymbal, with silk bands or tassels attached) suspended by ribbons from a wooden flute. The central motifs are framed by decorative hexagonal borders, and there are other musical instruments including a pipe or flute, and drum-sticks, behind, in the centre, and to the right-hand side. The outlines are etched and the colours painted by hand. It has the Georgian Excise Duty stamp and the number 3 on the back.

Place of Origin

England (printed)


ca. 1780-1800 (printed)


Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Etching, coloured by hand with watercolours


Height: 63 cm, Width: 92 cm, Height: 70 cm framed size, Width: 98 cm framed size

Descriptive line

Sheet of wallpaper with design of bird-cage and musical instruments in the Chinese style. English, ca. 1780-1800.

Labels and date

‘Chinoiserie’, the term used to describe European imitations of Chinese styles, was one of the most enduring fashions in British interior decoration throughout the 18th and into the 19th century. This rare sheet of wallpaper was designed to be joined end to end with other sheets to form a frieze. The caged singing bird and instruments suggest it may have been intended for a music room.

Subjects depicted

Ribbons; Bird; Musical instruments; Birdcage


Wall coverings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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