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Object Timeline

1925

  • We acquired this object.

2014

2019

  • You found it!

Sidewall (France), 1792–93

This is a Sidewall. It is dated 1792–93 and we acquired it in 1925. Its medium is block printed on handmade paper. It is a part of the Wallcoverings department.

This wallpaper from the French Revolution was woodblock-printed ca. 1792. The Citizens of France felt that the Revolution could not be won just by fighting in political circles or on the battlefield. They thought it also had to occur in the ordinary citizen’s everyday life. It was believed that symbols had a powerful effect on the spirit and could reinforce the validity of the new principles. The domestic nature of wallpaper as well its repetitive aspect made it an ideal medium for portraying such motifs, and bringing these ideals into the home. This paper contains numerous symbols of the Revolution including the red Phrygian or liberty cap, tricolor ribbons, and the motto "Unite, Indivisibilite de la Republique", which are all combined in this rather beautiful format. Unlike posters or flyers used today for the spread of information, these are block-printed wallpapers, made by some of the top French manufacturers. These Revolutions papers must have been fairly widely printed and used as the Museum collection contains about a dozen different versions of these papers in both sidewalls and borders.

This object was donated by Advisory Council. It is credited Purchased for the Museum by the Advisory Council.

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Its dimensions are

37.5 x 55 cm (14 3/4 x 21 5/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Sidewall (France), 1792–93; block printed on handmade paper; 37.5 x 55 cm (14 3/4 x 21 5/8 in.); Purchased for the Museum by the Advisory Council; 1925-1-370

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Hewitt Sisters Collect.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18309157/ |title=Sidewall (France), 1792–93 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=22 August 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>