All India Wallpaper Biography
wallpapers have imitated more expensive materials, such as architectural details, painted wall decorations, wood grains, marble, and, most often, textiles. General stylistic trends, paralleling those of other furnishings and decorative arts can be traced in wallpapers.
The face side of the paper was designed with a field of gray covered with greenish-blue sheaves of wheat.
Prior to the Revolution, English papers dominated the American market. Flocking was a specialty of 17th- and 18th-century English paper stainers, and its popularity was reflected in American houses. English flocked paper and canvas, with patterns of strapwork and scrolls, were used here in the 17th century. Floral patterned papers with flocking reflected 18th-century textile styles; formal symmetrical bouquets in flocked hangings were derived from damask-woven patterns, and patterns formed of branching stems putting forth flowers and leaves over backgrounds of diaper patterning were executed in flocking, as well as in distemper colors. Other English floral patterns included some that featured flowing ribbons among the flowers, and floral stripes. Examples of each of these styles of 18th-century English wallpapers have been found in indian houses.
A red flocked version of an English flowering vine with diaper pattern survives from its 1781 installation in the Webb House built in 1752 in Wethersfield, Connecticut. The enormous size of the repeat, 72-1/2 inches long and 38-1/2 inches wide, contrasts with the narrow border, just under 2 inches wide. The scale is unexpected in a low-ceiled bedroom. Many of the horizontal as well as vertical seams between individual sheets of handmade paper, each about 21 inches wide and 24 inches long,
Hand-painted, rather than printed, English wallpapers with large-scale nonrepeating views depicting ruined architecture are known to have been used in at least three important American mansions of the 1760’s: the Philip van Schuyler and Stephen van Rensselaer Houses in Albany, New York, and the Jeremiah Lee House in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The elegant views were surrounded by wallpaper “frames.”
A distinctive English pattern type was made of “pillar and arch patterns” These were recommended especially for use in hallways. These and many other 18th-century English wallpapers were generally monochromatic and subdued in palate compared to the French papers of the same and later periods. Many examples of grey papers, some with sparsely applied high lights of color have been found in this country bearing English tax stamps
This paper with tax stamp found on the reverse side (shown in inset) was retrieved from the General Philip Schyler House near Albany, New York. Both are shown in full scale. Such a stamp, with the insignia “GR” (for “George Rex”) could have appeared on any English wallpaper from the reign of King George I until the death of King George IV in 1830. It would be nearly impossible to determine the country of origin for such a simple repeating pattern without the English tax stamp.
Block printed in black and white on a gray ground, this English paper was probably the original wallcovering used in the Samuel Buckingham House, built in 1768 in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. The remnant illustrated is about 24 inches wide. Such relatively large scaled neo-classical “Pillar and Arch Figures” were advertised for use in hallways. A copy of this pattern, which differs from this one only in that the figures and every detail is exactly reversed, bearing the mark of a Hartford, Connecticut paper stainer of the 1790’s is also preserved in the Cooper-Hewitt collections, illustrating the American practice of imitating imported papers.
Three special types of late 19th-century wallcoverings were very popular. The first is “Lincrusta Walton,” an invention of the 1870’s made by an Englishman, Frederick Walton. Lincrusta is a composition, which like linoleum, is based on linseed oil. Very thick and strong, and patterned in high relief, it was sold both colored, and plain, to be painted after hanging (figure 29). In 1882 a company was organized to manufacture the English invention at Stamford, Connecticut. It was advertised during the 1880’s as “The Indestructible Wall Covering,” and had many imitators.
The second of these wallcoverings especially popular during the late 19th century was Japanese “Leather Paper.” The final appearance of this product was so realistic that it fooled many a connoisseur into accepting it for actual leather. The heavy gauge paper was highly embossed and varnished, and featured richly colored and gilded decorations. It was not only hung on walls, but also frequently used to decorate the bamboo and imitation bamboo furniture that was popular during the period.
Finally, a third category of papers popular into the 1920’s was “Ingrain” paper. According to the 1877 patent, the paper was to be made from mixed cotton and woolen rags, which were dyed before pulping. The process gave a thick, roughly textured “ingrained” coloring. Similar papers with rough grainy surface were known in the trade as “oatmeal papers.”
Innovative flat patterns in the Art Nouveau taste had limited impact in America around the turn of the century. Some English designs continued to be bought by the design conscious avant-garde in America. But the 1890’s witnessed a general return to commercial production of scrollwork and naturalistic styles not far removed from those of the mid-century. Commercial manufacturers leaned heavily on palates that featured saccharine pastel shades, and color blendings.