wallpaper was used in Europe in the 16th and 17th cent. as an inexpensive substitute for costly hangings. The French developed marbled papers, introduced from the East via Italy and used at first for box coverings, into larger sheets for wall coverings and also made other papers in small designs. Outlines were block-printed, and the color was filled in with brush or stencil. The flock technique of printing designs with an adhesive and sprinkling with fine bits of wool or silk was probably first adapted to wallpaper c.1620 in France, but by the 18th cent. England had become the principal manufacturer. Sets of painted Chinese paper were imported in the 17th cent. and by the 18th had become highly popular and were widely imitated. In France, Jean Papillon established in 1688 the first large wallpaper factory, where he made matching designs that would be continuous when pasted. In the 18th cent. paper was glued into continuous rolls before printing. Wallpaper was manufactured in the American colonies from the mid-18th cent. Colonial homes displayed various scenic and pictorial papers, often with tropical themes. The mid-19th cent. brought modern printing on roll paper, mass production, and decadence in design. The English Pre-Raphaelite artists, particularly William Morris, promoted a renaissance in wallpaper designs, and the 20th cent. has seen its fulfillment in England, France, and the United States. American designers have revived interest in landscape papers and have greatly developed frieze and panel papers through the medium of hand block printing.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.