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Sidewall (France)

This is a Sidewall. It is dated 1845–50 and we acquired it in 1931. Its medium is block-printed on machine-made paper. It is a part of the Wallcoverings department.

This figural landscape paper contains four different views and is printed in about 13 colors. This is a cleverly rendered pattern with a complicated format that was inspired by arabesque designs of the late nineteenth century. The earlier arabesque designs contained landscape scenes or activities placed upon thin plateaus, each delicately balanced and supported by ribbons or floral garlands. These plateaus were left open which kept the design very light and delicate.
Figural landscape papers of the mid-nineteenth century contain similar views but enclosed them in rustic foliate frameworks, making the design denser. Beneath each view the ground foliage trails off, then is rendered in a silhouette format, more or less blending with the sky in the scene below, and each landscape view is delicately intertwined with surrounding views. Bridges and architectural features run diagonally to keep the viewer’s eyes traveling around the design. The densely patterned and brightly colored architecture and foliage are offset by the softly shaded voids of the sky in each view. The staggered landscape views enclosed within a vining foliate framework design format is typical for this period, as are the scenes of peasants chateaus. It seems one is always looking up at the chateaus, which increases there sense of grandeur, while looking directly at figures. Perhaps this makes it easier to identify with the portrayed figures.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled The Delicate Balance of Nature.

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

  • Sidewall (USA)
  • block-printed on ungrounded paper.
  • Gift of Grace Lincoln Temple.
  • 1938-62-7
  • Dado (France)
  • block-printed on handmade paper.
  • Gift of Grace Lincoln Temple.
  • 1942-19-5

Our curators have highlighted 5 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Frieze (USA)
  • block-printed, glazed, embossed paper.
  • Gift of Mary Kate Conrad.
  • 2012-14-2

Its dimensions are

H x W: 137.5 x 47.5 cm (54 1/8 x 18 11/16 in.)

Cite this object as

Sidewall (France); block-printed on machine-made paper; H x W: 137.5 x 47.5 cm (54 1/8 x 18 11/16 in.); Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt; 1931-45-59

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions Hewitt Sisters CollectRooms with a View: Landscape & Wallpaper and The Cooper-Hewitt Collections: A Design Resource.

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Sidewall (France) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=29 May 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>