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Sidewall, Modernistic

This is a Sidewall. It was produced by M.H. Birge & Sons Co.. It is dated 1927 and we acquired it in 2008. Its medium is machine-printed paper, embossed. It is a part of the Wallcoverings department.

Charles Burchfield is one of the best known American watercolorists of the 20th century. It is less well known that he began designing wallpaper for the M. H. Birge and Sons in Buffalo, New York in 1921. Burchfield became chief designer in 1927 and remained with the firm until 1929. Burchfield designed at least 19 wallpapers while working with Birge.
Modernistic is the result of the Birge company asking Burchfield to design a modern wallpaper. This design is probably the least representative of Burchfield’s style of painting, but it became one of his most popular wallpaper designs. In fact, the design was so successful that the company began printing “Designed by Burchfield” in the selvedge of his designs.
At the time of proposed acquisition, the museum’s collection includes small Burchfield wallpaper samples, including Modernistic. Acquiring this roll of Modernistic would allow us to exhibit a larger section of the design.

It is credited Gift of Sharon and Curtis Stetter and Lila Harnett.

Its dimensions are

L x W: 1097.3 x 56 cm (36 ft. x 22 1/16 in.)

It is inscribed

Printed in left selvedge: "Birge - Made in U.S.A. 3960"; printed in right selvedge: "Designed by Burchfield."

Cite this object as

Sidewall, Modernistic; Produced by M.H. Birge & Sons Co. (United States); USA; machine-printed paper, embossed; L x W: 1097.3 x 56 cm (36 ft. x 22 1/16 in.); Gift of Sharon and Curtis Stetter and Lila Harnett; 2008-19-2

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Sidewall, Modernistic |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=25 January 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>