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James Blake Wiener interviewed me about "Backstory" for the Kunstpedia Foundation (the Netherlands), an online content site about fine and applied art:
Emile de Bruijn at the National Trust (England) has blogged about "india pictures"; he posted some pretty nice pictures of the Small Chinese Room at Erdding (shown in Chapter 12 of "Backstory"):
Angela Kipp, one of my editors (the other is Rebecca McNamara) got her blog post about the book translated into French, Dutch, Spanish, German, Greek.....and Zulu!
Ed Polk Douglas wrote a letter to the editor of the Maine Antique Digest (October issue):
Dear Clayton [Pennington],
Perhaps some of your readers will recall that historic wallpapers are one of my longstanding interests. On occasions in the past I have discussed aspects of this topic in various M.A.D. articles and letter to the editor. This month's epistle is written for those in your audience who share my curiosity.
The bibliography on wallpaper history, design, application, preservation, and restoration is small in comparison to other decorative arts, such as furniture, textiles, ceramics, etc. Many of the principal references works are out of print and hard to find; if and when these items are discovered, they are, inevitably, pricey.
Interestingly, while the scholarly topic of wallpaper, both general and specific, has been studied for some time, it is far from exhausted. On the other hand, modern published works in this category—unless they are large-format and heavily illustrated—seem to appear briefly only to quietly sink into the "Sargasso Sea" of shelter books.
A case in point is The Backstory Of Wallpaper: Paper-Hangings 1650-1750 (WallpaperScholar.com, 2013), a small, albeit handsomely produced work by an American professional paperhanger with a scholarly interest in the medium's history...
Kelly's book is the antithesis of the coffee-table genre mentioned above, and, to be honest, its few monochromatic illustrations need the complement of a work like Wallpapers: An International History... by Charles Oman and Jean Hamilton (Abrams, 1982), the catalog of the then-existing extensive collection at London's Victoria and Albert Museum. Backstory has a limited scope, too—only the first century of modern wallpaper history—but those years set the stage for everything that came later.
On the other hand, Backstory is a goldmine of information (even for a jaded historian as I), and the well-footnoted text is accompanied by useful backmatter. Kelly writes with charm and humor, and there are frequent asides that are possible only from one who has hung a lot of wallpaper...anyone, amateur or specialist, interested in an entity that will probably exist as long as there are walls will enjoy this book.
Ed Polk Douglas (Lyons, NY)
Have you seen the article in the New York Times about wallpaper?
Special prices are available for libraries, schools, and other non-profit use through the publisher, WallpaperScholar.Com:
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news and information about historic wallpaper worldwide
Wallpaper Case Studies:
Blockprints In The Barracks: Interior Finishes at Camp Pickett, San Juan
The Salem Towne House Hallway, Old Sturbridge Village
Standard Operating Procedures: Paperhanging in Historic Homes
Gilt Leather Installation: The Metlife Boardroom
Birds of a Feather: Lorenzo Revisitedper at Lockwood-Mathews
Wallpaper Choices at Adena (Chillicothe, Ohio)
Embossed Wallpaper at Lockwood-Mathews
Style On The Mississippi: Villa Louis
What I Learned At The White House: A Memoir
Download: Full Essay
CLICK to enlarge and keep clicking! Or, download to enjoy the great detail on these images, which we own. These are awesome wallpapers. The papers hung in this c. 1790 western Massachusetts home are made from hand-joined sheets with 17" horizontal seams; on left, note "set border" at top of the c. 1820 installation; center, the mitered borderwork perfectly complements the woodwork; this house has unique woodwork in every major room on the first floor; on right, a drop match has been hung as a straight-across; sometimes this is done to avoid cutting into figures, but not here; it appears to be operator error; it's very possible that the installer was a local handyman in this farming and light industrial community in rural New England.
images © wallpaperscholar.com
Bernard Jacque has written an article for the final issue of the "Decorative Arts" journal of the Bard Graduate Center. "Drapery Wallpapers by Dufour & Dufour & Leroy, 1808-1830: Imitation or Creation?" (Fall/Winter, 2009-2010). Color illustrations show the astonishing richness of drapery panels. Jacque explains how and why these show-stoppers became popular among the wealthy. He includes notes on Dufour's career, and on the nomenclature of draperies. Not all draperies were put up in panels. For example, "drapery figures" were inexpensive sidewalls, like the one reproduced for Adena, a Latrobe house in Ohio, a few years ago.
Two stalwart wallpaper companies, Scalamandre and Brunschwig & Fils, have undergone major changes. Scalamandre has given up their weaving mill in Long Island City and relocated fabric operations to Gaffney, So. Carolina. The wallcovering division has apparently been spun off to Ronkonkoma Operations LLC, based in Hauppauge, NY.
On March 11, Katy Stech of the Wall Street Journal reported that the bankrupt B & F was purchased at a competitive auction by Kravet Inc. The price was $9.655 million, up from Kravet's initial offer of $6.5.
Jacque and Georgette Pastiaux-Thiriat edited the French-language book "Joseph Dufour: Manufacturier De Papier Peint", published by Presses Universitaires De Rennes in 2010. It includes about a dozen essays by such notables as Christine Woods, Christine Velut, and Anthony Wells-Cole, and examines Dufour's social and political background as well as his dominance in Parisian wallpaper production in the first quarter of the 19th century.
The volume "New Discoveries, New Research" is also an outgrowth of an international wallpaper conference. However, this book is in English. It's based on a Stockholm gathering in 2007 and was published in Sweden in 2009. The book includes 12 essays on a variety of wallpaper topics, including a study of the output and working methods of Johan Norman, a late-18th century Swedish paperstainer. "Wallpaper in the Farmhouses of Halsingland" by Ingela Brostrom looks at how prosperous farmers mixed and matched decorative painting and wallpaper.
The central hallway of the Salem Towne House at Old Sturbridge Village has been done over in wallpaper from Adelphi Paperhangings. The c. 1794 pattern, an American paper loosely based on the French "two pigeons" genre, came from the OSV archives. It was originally hung in nearby Sutton, MA. The small border found with the paper was reproduced here for the first time. Installation included scissor-trimming throughout. The close-up photos here are © Charles T. Lyle.
A reproduction of a Paul Balin pattern has been installed at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, CT. The highly embossed and decorated paper resembles leather. Balin was already known for these techniques in the 1870's, when the house was built, and perfected his methods of embossing and decorating paper over the next several decades. On the surface, Balin's work is similar to the "leather papers" from Japan that became popular in the 80's and 90's. And yet the types are quite different. The Japanese papers were usually about a meter wide and composed of several paper laminates formed in a mold. Balin's papers were embossed under extremely high pressure, and remained hollow, even after finishing.
Richard C. Nylander has retired from his duties as chief curator at Historic New England, the preservation organization formerly known as SPNEA. We owe Richard many thanks for his inspiration and scholarly passion over the years for our favorite subject — and wish him many more happy years enjoying his retirement. No doubt a major occupation will be exploring the globe with his wife Jane, also retired from her position as president of Historic New England. Laura Beach has written a lovely essay about this distinguished (but not extinguished) couple, which you are sure to enjoy.
Bernard Jacque has written an article for the journal Decorative Arts (Bard Center). The title is "Wallpaper in the Royal Apartments at the Tuileries, 1789-1792". Jacque is now retired from his long career as curator at the Wallpaper Museum in Rixheim.
Here is our review of the article ...
In the same issue of the journal Geoffrey Beard reviews John Cornforth's "Early Georgian Interiors". Cornforth's preface notes that the book updates the classic "English Decoration in the 18th Century" which he wrote with John Fowler. But, it is much more. Confronted with a wealth of new material, Cornforth has shortened the time frame down to 1685-1760, and expanded some topics (planning, chinoiserie, silver) while dropping others (carpets and paint colors). This is a great book! View a few extracts.
The William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, Massachusetts is sporting a new look. Two hall papers (both stripes) have been put into a three story hall, and the poet's bedroom has been papered with a trellis pattern. The reproductions are screenprints based on wallpapers hung in the house around 1872. The house is notable for having the original wallpaper, also from around 1872, still hanging (barely) in the library. Conservation of the paper is underway. The library was the subject of an engraved illustration in Scribner's Monthly in 1878, and lo!, the engraving shows the same wallpaper that still adorns the walls. It was in this library that Mr. Bryant, as a retirement project, translated the Iliad from the original Greek text.
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The images on this page show the wallpaper covers for two 19th century almanacs. (One of the little books is missing its back cover). The wallpaper is stitched onto the 5" x 7" books with thread. One is the "New England Farmer's Almanac for 1825", by Dudley Leavitt, published by Moore, and the other is "The Farmer's Almanac for 1826", by Robert B. Thomas, published by Richardson and Lord.
They are blockprinted in four colors on a laid paper. There is no
ground. The color which reads "white" is actually just the ground of the paper. There are highlights of an opaque white color around the details.
1825 was not yet the era of really cheap paper; this one probably cost between 20 and 35 cents per piece, put up in a 10 yard roll. In the 1820's the piece was evolving. Before 1800 it had been a selling point for American paperstainers to advertise that they produced the 12-yard piece established by England, but that tradition was going away. The new dominance was that of the French, who produced 9 1/2 yard pieces, and little by little the 12-yard standard got whittled down to 8 yards, which became the American standard single roll by around the Civil War. The maker is not known but it may have been Bumstead or another Boston paperstainer, or maybe John Perkins in New Bedford. New Bedford Mercury, April 8, 1825: "John Perkins, paper hangings of his own manufacture, mostly new patterns, from 20 to 50 cents per roll, warranted equal to any made in this country."
There is something (maybe the stars?) about this scrolly, foliated and rather awkward design which suggests very strongly "I am an early American paper". This is the type of paper that one would expect to see in the background of a group portrait by a non-academic painter, showing a dour-faced family in a farmhouse parlor.
I belive it was Father Flanagan who said "there is no such thing as a bad boy". Similarly, we believe there is no such thing as a "bad" wallpaper. All wallpaper is beautiful because it was always a personal choice, and it always served a purpose. This is the type of wallpaper, and information, that we specialize in at WallpaperScholar.Com, I suppose you could call it the technical end.