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Dado (France)

This is a Dado. It is dated 1810–15 and we acquired it in 1955. Its medium is block-printed on handmade paper. It is a part of the Wallcoverings department.

This is a wallpaper dado, in the neoclassical style, would have been hung at the bottom of the wall between the baseboard and chair rail. Being located at the bottom of the wall the dado is visually supporting the weight of the wall and for this reason they were frequently architectural in nature. The deep colonnade and the massive figure of Hercules seem capable of this task. Hercules, known for his strength, is shown here holding up the world. Set between the repeating figures of Hercules is a framed vignette of a clothed Venus, standing in a shell being pulled by a pair of dolphins. A winged putto rests on the back of another dolphin nearby. The sun is breaking through the clouds, casting a golden glow on the scene. This vignette is set within a faux stone panel, hung with foliate festoons loaded with fruit. Festoons were a popular motif on neoclassical architecture and the decorative arts.
This design is a woodblock print on joined sheets of handmade paper. Prior to 1820 all paper was made by hand, in single sheets, which were then glued together end to end to form rolls. A ground color was then applied over the entire front surface and then the design was printed, with one block being needed to print each color. The lightest shade of green is the ground color and the design in printed in nine colors.
Numerous wallpapers printed during this period are printed in grisaille, or shades of gray. This paper is printed in a monochrome green color scheme with accents printed in grisaille. The use of this technique made the printed elements appear more sculptural and gave them a look of antiquity.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Hercules Supports the World, and the Wall.

This object was donated by Teresa Kilham. It is credited Gift of Teresa Kilham.

Its dimensions are

212.5 x 58.5 cm (83 11/16 x 23 1/16 in.)

Cite this object as

Dado (France); block-printed on handmade paper; 212.5 x 58.5 cm (83 11/16 x 23 1/16 in.); Gift of Teresa Kilham; 1955-86-2

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=Dado (France) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=29 May 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>