Back over last summer in Upstate NY, Geoff donated his time to curate and design a show at the ATHENS CULTURAL CENTER about antique wallpaper and its corresponding history. Below is a personal tour of the entire exhibition complete with the exhibition guide for your visual edification!



AN EXHIBITION OF 18TH, 19TH AND 20TH CENTURY PAPERS SHOWING, IN A SMALL WAY, THE HISTORY OF POPULAR PATTERNS, COLORS, AND THE CHANGES BROUGHT ABOUT BY ADVANCES IN PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES THROUGHOUT THE PERIOD, GENEROUSLY DONATED BY EMPIRE HISTORIC ARTS AND MICHAEL B. LEVINSON. SOME SELECT ITEMS ON LOAN FROM CARRIE FEDER AND RANDY EVANS.EXHIBIT DESIGNED AND INSTALLED BY GEOFF HOWELL.


A BRIEF HISTORY OF PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES:

PAPERS WERE MADE IN MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, BUT THE DESIGN AND USE REALLY TOOK OFF IN THE EARLY 19th CENTURY IN FRANCE, AS A REPLACEMENT FOR COSTLY FABRICS USED HEAVILY BY THE UNPOPULAR MONARCHY UNTIL THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. AS EARLY AS THE 1500’S WALLPAPERS WERE PRINTED BY HAND WITH CARVED WOOD BLOCKS ON INDIVIDUAL SHEETS OF PAPER, AND THE SHEETS OF PAPER WERE ASSEMBLED ON THE WALL. LATER, THESE SHEETS WERE GLUED TOGETHER INTO ROLLS ( THE TECHNOLOGY FOR MAKING LONG, CONTINUOUS ROLLS OF PAPER HAD NOT YET BEEN INVENTED) . PAPER QUALITY VARIED TREMENDOUSLY, EARLIER PAPERS GENERALLY HAD A HIGHER COTTON/RAG CONTENT AND HOLD UP VERY WELL, LIKE THE PAPER MONEY IS PRINTED ON, LATER PAPERS FREQUENTLY HAD A HIGH WOODPULP CONTENT, WHICH CAN GET BRITTLE, AND YELLOW WITH AGE. OFTEN PAPER WAS PAINTED FIRST WITH DISTEMPER, OR GOUACHE, BOTH QUICK DRYING TYPES OF PAINT USED AS A BASE COLOR, AND THEN BLOCK PRINTED ON TOP OF THAT. DIFFERENT COLORS WOULD REQUIRE THAT THE COLOR UNDERNEATH WAS DRY BEFORE THE SECOND COLOR WAS APPLIED, UNLESS THE COLOR PATTERNS DID NOT OVERLAP. VAST AREAS WERE NEEDED IN PRODUCTION HOUSES FOR DRYING RACKS. OFTEN THESE WALLPAPERS WERE VERY SIMPLE, WITH ONE OR TWO COLORS, THOUGH EXTRAVAGANT PAPERS, EXTRAVAGANTLY PRICED, WITH HUNDREDS OF HAND CARVED PRINTING BLOCKS, AND AS MANY COLORS, WERE ALSO MADE AS EARLY AS THE 18TH CENTURY. AS THE 19TH CENTURY UNFOLDED, TECHNIQUES WERE DEVELOPED FOR CARVING THE PATTERNS ONTO CIRCULAR ROLLS, THEN MACHINES WERE DESIGNED TO HOLD THE ROLLS, WAYS WERE DEVISED TO GET THE PIGMENT ONTO THE ROLLS, REFINEMENTS WERE MADE IN THE PIGMENTS SO THAT THEY WOULD DRY EVEN FASTER, SO THAT BY MID CENTURY PRESSES WERE DESIGNED THAT COULD PRINT MANY COLORS AT ONCE ON CONTINUOUS ROLLS OF PAPER. IN MANY WAYS THE BASIC PRINCIPLES HAVE NOT CHANGED SINCE THEN, AND SOME OF THESE MACHINES ARE STILL IN USE TODAY TO MAKE PERIOD REPRODUCTION WALLPAPERS. OTHER ADVANCES USING PHOTO TECHNIQUES, DIGITAL PRINTING, DURABLE MATERIALS, NON-FADING COLORS, VINYLS, ETC, HAVE ALL HAD THEIR INFLUENCE IN TODAY'S PRODUCTS. FLOCKING, A TECHNIQUE USED TO IMITATE VELVET, WAS DONE BY SPRINKLING CUT WOOL FIBERS ONTO PATTERNS PRINTED WITH GLUE. AS SOON AS OTHER THINGS SUCH AS METALLIC INKS, BRIGHT NEW DYES AND PIGMENTS WERE INVENTED, PAPERS WOULD BE DESIGNED TO USE THESE TECHNOLOGIES SO CONSUMERS COULD HAVE THE LATEST AND GREATEST. BEING AWARE OF THESE PAPER MAKING PROCESSES,PRINTING TECHNOLOGIES, AND STYLES HELP EXPERTS TO DATE PAPERS. THEN, AS NOW, HARMFUL CHEMICALS WERE OFTEN USED TO GET THE RIGHT COLOR, OR PROPERTY, AND PAPERS WOULD CONTAIN HEAVY METALS, OFF-GAS ARSENIC, OR OTHER HAZARDOUS MATERIALS. FORTUNATELY, HOUSES WERE NOT AIRTIGHT, AND THE CONSEQUENCES FROM OFF-GASSING WERE MUCH LESS DIRE THAN THEY WOULD BE TODAY.

HOWEVER, IF YOU HAVE AN URGE TO LICK ANYTHING ON EXHIBIT HERE, PLEASE RESIST!


THIS FRAMED PIECE WAS PURCHASED AT THE FARMINGTON POLO GROUNDS ANTIQUE SHOW IN 1971 WHEN MICHAEL WAS ELEVEN YEARS OLD. HE RECOGNIZED THE HAND BLOCKED PROCESS FROM PRINTMAKING CLASSES HE HAD TAKEN AT THE WADSWORTH ATHENEUM, THOUGH AT THE TIME HE THOUGHT IT WAS AN ANTIQUE “LIMITED EDITION” PRINT.


LOCAL SAMPLER OF WALLPAPER


THIS COLLECTION OF WALLPAPER SCRAPS IS AMAZING IN THAT IT ALL CAME FROM THE SAME BUILDING: THE ALBERTUS VAN LOON HOUSE, BUILT IN 1724 ON NORTH WASHINGTON STREET IN ATHENS.

CARRIE FEDER AND RANDY EVANS CAREFULLY SAVED ALL THE PIECES THEY COULD IN THE RESTORATION OF THAT BUILDING, AND HAVE GENEROUSLY LOANED THIS AND SOME OTHER ROLLS IN THE EXHIBIT THAT WERE ALL FOUND IN THAT HOUSE. THIS SMALL ARRAY , DATING FROM THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY THROUGH THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY,SHOWS IN A CONCENTRATED WAY, STYLISTIC CHANGES, POPULAR COLOR PALETTES AND THE IMPORTANCE AND ALMOST DEVOTION TO WALLPAPER IN EVERY HOME THROUGHOUT THE 19TH CENTURY. EVERY ROOM WAS PAPERED, AND OFTEN.

THE BOX AT THE BASE OF THIS DISPLAY, WAS MADE AT LEAST ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY YEARS AGO, OUT OF WIDE PINE PLANKS FROM THE LATE 18TH CENTURY, TO FIT AROUND A CHIMNEY AND WAS WALLPAPERED MANY TIMES TO BLEND IN WITH THE REST OF THE ROOM. SOME OF THE VARIOUS LAYERS ARE DESCRIBED BELOW.

THE BOARD ON THE TOP OF THE BOX IS BELIEVED TO BE A TOOL USED TO MEASURE AND CUT WALLPAPER-THE WAY THAT IT IS MADE SUGGESTS THAT IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN MADE TO CUT CONSISTENT LENGTHS, AND THERE IS A DIP CARVED ALONG THE LENGTH OF IT AT AROUND THE WIDTH OF A ROLL OF PAPER-OR IT SIMPLY COULD HAVE BEEN A SURFACE TO APPLY THE GLUE –WE DON’T KNOW FOR SURE, BUT IT WAS BOUGHT AT AUCTION AS A "WALLPAPER TABLE"....

ALWAYS INTERESTING TO LOOK AT WHAT MIGHT BE JUST AN OLD PIECE OF WOOD LAYING IN A BARN AND FIND OUT IT HAS SOME PURPOSE!





1870’S HAND BLOCKED FRENCH WALLPAPER.


1895-1900 FRENCH CHILDREN’S WALLPAPER


1870’S ENGLISH CHILDREN’S ROOM WALLPAPER, ILLUSTRATING AESOP’S FABLES.





THIS FRENCH 1890’S PAINTING FOR WALLPAPER ALREADY SHOWS INFLUENCE OF
ART NOUVEAU.



HAVING JUST CELEBRATED ITS 121ST BIRTHDAY, THIS IS A HAND PAINTED PATTERN SAMPLE TO BE USED FOR WALLPAPER PRODUCTION IS DATED JUNE 5TH 1888.




(horizontal strip) 1880’S ENGLISH DRAB MACHINE PRINTED BORDER.

(left vertical strip) 1870’S HAND BLOCKED FRENCH WALLPAPER.

(left vertical within frame) 1860’S HAND BLOCKED FRENCH BORDER PAPER.

(white vertical strip) 186O’S HANDBLOCKED FRENCH WALLPAPER ON SATIN GROUND.

(right vertical strip) 1880’S MACHINE PRINTED FRENCH WALLPAPER. (1870’S WALNUT FRAME COURTESY OF GEOFF HOWELL.)


1820’S FRENCH HAND BLOCKED REPEAT PATTERN SCENIC WALLPAPER. ( NOTICE THE FANTASTIC FOLIAGE AND FLOWERS )


1880’S ENGLISH PAINTING FOR WALLPAPER- ARTS AND CRAFTS STYLE.





(right in frame) 1780’S FRENCH HAND BLOCKED WALLPAPER FROM THE REVEILLON FACTORY IN PARIS. THE STRIKE BY THE WORKERS AT THIS FACTORY STARTED THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.

(French wallpaper came into its own in the 1770's. The Revolution changed French society, and a newly prosperous bourgeoisie preferred wallpaper to textiles. Splendid ''arabesques'' (papers inspired by the urns, griffons and sphinxes of the frescoes in Pompeii) were introduced into the French market in 1770 by the Parisian firm of Jean-Baptiste Reveillon. His output, however, stopped about 1795. ''During the Revolution, his factory was ransacked” N.Y.TIMES)



HAND BLOCKED FRENCH WALLPAPER BORDER WITH GREEN FELT FLOCKING BY DUFOUR CIRCA 1811. ( EACH COLOR IS APPLIED WITH A SEPARATE HANDCARVED BLOCK!)

( FROM WIKIPEDIA... ABOUT DUFOUR)

In 1806, in collaboration with the artist Jean-Gabriel Charvet, Dufour et Cie produced a twenty-panel set of scenic wallpaper entitled Sauvages de la Mer du Pacifique (Savages of the Pacific), which became the biggest success of the company. It was the largest panoramic wallpaper of its time, and marked the burgeoning of a French industry in panoramic wallpapers. Dufour realized almost immediate success from the sale of these papers and enjoyed a lively trade with America. The Neoclassic spirit currently in favor was accented handsomely in houses of the Federal period by the exaggerated elegance of Charvet's scenes. Like most of eighteenth century wallpapers, the panorama was designed to be hung above a dado.

History

For many years it was believed that Joseph Dufour was born in 1752. An error in his place of birth was the source of the mistake. Indeed, another Joseph Dufour was born in Mâcon, in 1752, whilst the founder of the maunufacture was born in Tramayes in 1757 as the second child of Claude Dufour and Francoise Braillon.

Joseph Dufour trained in the wallpaper industry and worked in Lyon, which was a center for both the textile and wallpaper industries. In 1797, Joseph Dufour started the company together with his brother Pierre in Macon, Rue de la Paroisse. The designer Jean-Gabriel Charvet, renowned in Lyon, worked for them. Their first few years were not very successful; in 1800 they went into liquidation and Pierre left the company. By 1801, the business was operating under the name Joseph Dufour et Cie.

Then the company picked up rapidly. In 1805 the company employed more than 90 workers. Following the Savages' success at the Fourth Exhibition of Products of the French Industry in 1806, Joseph Dufour moved to Paris in the Faubourg Saint Antoine. His company rapidly became famous in Europe and America not only for it's panoramics but also for it's repeating wallpaper. The company employed the talent of famous designers such as Xavier Mader and Evarist Fragonard. Joseph Dufour died in Paris 1827. His son-in-law took on the business but sold it a few years later. The wood-blocks were scattered.)


1820’S FRENCH CLASSICAL STYLE BORDER PAPER. CREATED FOR A ROOM OF CLASSICAL PROPORTIONS 15 FT. HIGH, 15 FT. WIDE AND 30 FT. LONG. HAND BLOCKED ON HAND-MADE PAPER.


(far right vertical strip) 1930’S MACHINE PRINTED IN THE 18TH CENTURY STYLE, MOST LIKELY FOR THE AMERICAN MARKET (NOTE THE SIDEMARK “MADE IN FRANCE”).






1910 FRENCH ART NOUVEAU BORDER PAPER.


CIRCA 1900 COLLECTION OF AMERICAN MACHINE-PRINTED WALLPAPERS IN VARIOUS SHADES OF GREEN. ( LONG PANEL AND TOP BORDER PIECE WITH THE HEAVY GOLD INK FROM THE ALBERTUS VAN LOON HOUSE )

AMERICAN ARTS AND CRAFTS GREEN ON GREEN ON HEAVILY TEXTURED PAPER.


(right) 1870’S FRENCH HAND BLOCKED FAUX MARBLE ON A HAND APPLIED PAINTED BACKGROUND COLOR, FRENCH, PROBABLY MADE FOR UNDER A DADO.

(left) 1950’S AMERICAN MACHINE-MADE PAPER- WASHABLE! ( FOUND IN THE ALBERTUS VAN LOON HOUSE )


PAIR OF LAMPS MADE FROM TWO HAND-MADE WALLPAPER PRINTING ROLLERS. IN THE 1950’S AND 60’S WHEN MANY COMPANIES WERE UPDATING STYLES OR GOING OUT OF BUSINESS. MANY OF THESE ROLLS WERE TURNED INTO LAMPS. ON THE LANDSCAPE PATTERN PLEASE NOTE THE SERIES OF TEN REGISTRATION BEADS ON THE TOP WHICH INDICATE THAT THIS PAPER WOULD HAVE HAD THAT MANY COLORS.


(LARGE GILDED FRAME AND GILDED CHAIR, MID 19TH CENTURY. COURTESY OF GEOFF HOWELL.)

(horizontal strip with swags)1870’S NAPOLEON THE 3RD FRENCH HAND BLOCKED BORDER PRINTED ON MACHINE MADE PAPER.

(on the floor next to chair) LATE 18TH CENTURY FRENCH PROVINCIAL HAND BLOCKED PAPER FOUND NEAR AIX EN PROVENCE.

(light blue background piece close to floor) #33 CIRCA 1765, BLUE AND WHITE HAND BLOCKED WALL PAPER MADE IN THE NETHERLANDS. THIS PAPER IS VERY RARE, AND THERE IS A DEBATE BY THE EXPERTS OVER ITS TRUE AGE-IT COULD BE ANOTHER 30 OR 40 YEARS OLDER.

(dark blue fleur de lis paper) CIRCA 1810 NAPOLEON THE 1ST HAND BLOCKED WALLPAPER. EACH SHEET OF PAPER IS HAND-MADE MEASURING APPROX. 18” X 20” THEN JOINED TOGETHER TO FORM A ROLL.


LATE 18TH CENTURY AMERICAN HAND BLOCKED WALL PAPER. ONLY TWO BLOCKS WERE USED TO CREATE THIS PAPER THE BLUE INK (DISTEMPER) WAS BRUSHED ON BEFORE THE BLACK AND WHITE WERE PRINTED MAKING THE PAPER MORE AFFORDABLE.


(thin vetical strip) 1820’S HAND BLOCKED FRENCH BORDER PAPER.


1820’S FRENCH HAND BLOCKED GEOMETRIC PATTERN WITH SEPARATE CHAIR RAIL PAPER STILL ATTACHED.

MODERN FABRIC, THE DESIGN BASED ON THIS WALLPAPER. PRINTED BY QUADRILLE ON LINEN, AND AVAILABLE IN TWO COLORWAYS.



FOUR-PANEL FOLDING SCREEN COVERED WITH FRENCH WALLPAPER CIRCA 1865/1870. PURCHASED FOR BRACE BRIDGE HALL IN NORTH CAROLINA AFTER THE CIVIL WAR BY THE WIDOW OF GOVERNER ELIAS CARR, THE SCREEN COVERED TO MATCH THE ROOM.


(beige background paper in the top right corner) FRENCH HAND BLOCKED WALLPAPER CIRCA 1795, THIS PAPER WAS ON THE WALLS WHEN VICTOR HUGO RENTED THE ROOM IN THE 19TH CENTURY.


1840’S HAND BLOCKED SCENIC WALLPAPER CREATED FOR AN OVER-DOOR PANEL.






(within frame)1880’S HAND PAINTED SAMPLE FOR A WALLPAPER PATTERN FOR A FRENCH

(right vertical strip) 1900’S AMERICAN MACHINE MADE ARTS AND CRAFTS STYLE WALLPAPER ( FOUND IN THE ALBERTUS VAN LOON HOUSE )

(middle vertical strip) 1890’S AMERICAN THREE-COLOR MACHINE MADE PAPER CREATED TO LOOK LIKE A MORE EXPENSIVE FLOCKED PAPER.

(left vertical strip) 1870’S ENGLISH MACHINE PRINTED WALLPAPER. ( PLEASE NOTE HOW, IN MANY OF THESE PAPERS, THE COLOR OF THE PAPER ITSELF IS INCORPORATED INTO THE DESIGN.)


TURN OF THE CENTURY AMERICAN MACHINE MADE PAPERS TYPICAL OF WHAT WOULD BE FOUND IN LOCAL HOMES.


1920’S FRENCH MACHINE MADE ART DECO WALLPAPERS.



FIN.