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Object ID #18319135

This is a Sidewall. It is dated 1760–65 and we acquired it in 1931. Its medium is block printed on handmade paper. It is a part of the Wallcoverings department.

Wallpapers come to the museum in a variety of ways: they can be donated by the manufacturer when produced, sometimes people find old sample books or remnants of wallpaper up in the attic or garage, and sometimes antique samples are peeled off the walls of old homes. Not all papers in the Museum’s collection are pristine, with many examples having spent decades or centuries hanging on the walls of homes, not always protected from the elements. I don’t know the provenance of this piece, other than it is one of the earlier wallpapers acquired by Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt for the Cooper Union Museum. Many of the wallpapers the founders collected are strong examples of a style, or produced by a premier manufacturer, but were not always in the best condition. Upon first appearance this paper seems to be a semi-well preserved example of a mid-eighteenth century wallpaper in the style then referred to as India figure or chintz figures. Closer inspection shows the paper is actually an amalgamation of many smaller pieces pasted together to complete the design. Many of the pieces are fills and were cut and pasted or painted to copy the original in order to complete the design. This paper had probably been installed on the walls of a home for a couple hundred years, and didn’t want to be peeled off. When it was forcibly removed it came off in sections and was later pieced together with partial areas being recreated to complete the design. The recreated areas were quite beautifully painted to match the original. This is one of the earliest wallpapers in the Museum’s collection, with the key word being paper. There are examples of repeating designs that date earlier but those are primarily block printed and flocked on canvas.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled India Chintz All Pieced Together.

This object was donated by Eleanor Garnier Hewitt and Sarah Cooper Hewitt. It is credited Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt.

Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.

  • Object ID #18340227
  • block printed on handmade paper.
  • Gift of Mrs. Luke Vincent Lockwood.
  • 1935-6-1

Its dimensions are

H x W: 92.5 x 57 cm (36 7/16 x 22 7/16 in.)

It is inscribed

Pieced together with painted restoration.

Cite this object as

Object ID #18319135; block printed on handmade paper; H x W: 92.5 x 57 cm (36 7/16 x 22 7/16 in.); Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt; 1931-45-10

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions Hewitt Sisters Collect and The Cooper-Hewitt Collections: A Design Resource.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Object ID #18319135 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=28 January 2020 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>