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Wallpaper

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)
    Bourton-on-the-Water (paper hung)

  • Date:

    ca. 1769 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Block-printed in distemper, on paper

  • Museum number:

    E.964-1926

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118a, case 8

Object Type
In Britain, paper printed with patterns has been used for decorating walls since the 16th century. By the later 19th century, wallpapers were widely used by all classes, in homes but also in public buildings.

Trading
Until the late 18th century, London was the centre of the wallpaper trade. Wallpapers manufactured in London were sold throughout the country, and exported to France and other parts of Continental Europe. From the 1750s English wallpapers were also sent out to America. In 1754 a Boston newspaper advertised 'Printed Paper for Rooms lately imported from London'. The pillar and arch style of wallpaper decoration was particularly popular in America. English wallpapers fell out of favour after the War of Independence (1776-1783), when America severed its political links with Britain, and American customers began to prefer French styles. At the same time an American wallpaper industry was being established.

Places
Pillar and arch pattern wallpapers were not widely used in Britain, but this unused piece was left over from the re-decoration in 1769 of the manor house at Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire. Similar patterns survive in a number of American houses. This particular design has been reproduced specifically for the refurbishment of an historic house museum - Gunston Hall, in Lorton, Virginia - where it has been hung in the entrance hall. In the 18th and 19th centuries most makers and sellers of paper-hangings (as wallpapers were then called) specified that the bold design of pillar and arch patterns were best suited to halls and stair-wells.

Physical description

Wallpaper with a design featuring an archway with garlands of flowers over a semicircular colonnade of Greek pillars, with a vase of flowers in the foreground, on a yellow ground; Block-printed in distemper, on paper; Stamped on the back with the Georgian Excise duty stamp and Paper 4.

Place of Origin

England (made)
Bourton-on-the-Water (paper hung)

Date

ca. 1769 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Block-printed in distemper, on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Paper 4
Stamped on the back with the excise duty stamp and Paper 4.

Dimensions

Height: 106 cm paper, Width: 58 cm paper

Object history note

Provenance: Left over from the decoration in 1769 of the Old Manor, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.

Descriptive line

Wallpaper with a design featuring an archway with garlands of flowers over a semicircular colonnade of Greek pillars, with a vase of flowers in the foreground, on a yellow ground; Block-printed in distemper, on paper; Stamped on the back with the Georgian Excise duty stamp; Left over from the 1769 decoration of the Old Manor, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire; English; ca. 1769.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Oman, Charles C., and Hamilton, Jean. Wallpapers: a history and illustrated catalogue of the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Sotheby Publications, in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982.
Saunders, Gill. Wallpaper in Interior Decoration. V&A Publications. London. 2002. pp. 78. pl 66.
Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1926, London: Board of Education, 1927.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The 'pillar and arch' decoration shown on this English wallpaper was especially popular in North America from the 1760s until the early 19th century. Its bold design was used to great effect in halls and stairways. Newspapers in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston carried numerous advertisements for English wallpapers. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Provenance: Left over from the 1769 decoration of the Old Manor, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.

Materials

Paper

Techniques

Woodblock print; Chiaroscuro

Subjects depicted

Colonnades; Festoons; Vase; Archways; Flowers

Categories

Wall coverings; British Galleries

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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