Want to hear a wallpaper story?

October 29, 2012

Today we are back on the subject of wallpaper, again. You see, the Dutch Foundation for Historic Wallpapers and Wall Decorations in The Netherlands had a little celebration last Friday. Twenty years ago a couple of enthusiasts started collecting wallpapers. Used ones,  that is. Buildings got demolished and fragments ended up in skips. But not for long. They were rescued, studied and cherished.

Twenty years later they are together again. Now it is not only them talking with gusto about paper, patterns, print blocks. There are 160 people listening to them and discussing with them. They are together at the Historic Wallpaper Symposium in the Royal Library in The Hague.

The enthusiastic start resulted in an exhibition, a publication, lots of wallpaper outings, and now a conference.

Their chairman, Richard Harmanni, started with an introduction, speaking about collections. And mentioned that a good home needs to be found for the wallpaper collection and library of the Sikkens Schildersmuseum.

And then there were prominent guest speakers. What a joy to hear Bernard Jacque about Zuber scenic wallpapers (La Vue de la Grece Moderne in particular), throwing in a few fantastic stories about the designer Julien Deltil and the manufacturing process.

What a privilege to hear Treve Rosoman about his long career discovering and studying  London urban wallpapers. Among which one of the oldest wallpapers found, a small chinoiserie paper from around 1700, suitably found in Paradise Row, Lambeth London. He even showed Abraham Price’s  trade card – who was the supplier and very proud of his products. Treve Rosoman also unlocked the secret about tax stamps, but for that you will have to read more in the reprint of his book London Wallpapers. Their Manufacture and Use 1690-1840.


And their there was Thomas Brain, giving the background to a highly skillful executed research and conservation of a Dutch installation of the same scenic wallpaper that Bernard Jacque introduced earlier. And Judith Bohan, presenting her imaginary book ‘Wallpaper for Dummies’ filled with tips and technical stuff. And a registration form that we all should be using, to expand the database that for instance Historic New England is using. And where a database like that could lead to…..



The Symposium Historisch Papierbehang was organised to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Stichting Historische Behangsels en Wanddecoraties in Nederland. Anybody can join and support, via their website.

Bernard Jacque is the founder and director of the Musee du Papier Peint in Rixheim, home of the Zuber scenics, France.

Treve Rosoman is curator at English Heritage (UK) and caretaker of the English Heritage wallpaper collection.

Not represented this day, but as enthusiastic and knowledgeable and enjoyable is the Wallpaper History Society, more information here.