Wallpaper of expensive styles and artistic variety were brought to America as early as 1735. Rolls of wallpaper did not appear in America until 1790, so most antique wallpaper designs imported before this time arrived in square sheets. Directoire, a period intermediate between Louis XVI and the Empire days of Napoleon, had some of the character of Louis XVI and showed the beginnings of the Empire grandiose and stereotyped manner. Its backgrounds were the big scenic papers in pastoral or illustrative fashion, showing both mythological and historical scenes, or the interesting garden spots and boulevards of the day. French influence dominated the design of domestic wallpapers; but by the end of the eighteenth century, Philadelphia had become the center of wallpaper production in the United States. Subjects ranged from commemorative and panoramic scenes to designs drawn from architecture and nature.
Featured here are Regency era wallpaper patterns and border samples. These antique wallpaper designs are from the Philadelphia firm of Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Wallpaper design number forty-seven c.1815, by Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Border for number forty-six is shown below. Composed of a band ornamented with stars and rosettes, surmounted by three palms united by a garland of olive leaves forming an arch - beneath two swans, and a Grecian lyre in the center. The whole imitating gilded bronze.
Wallcovering design number forty-six c.1815, by Messrs. Virchaux & Co., composed of festoons, roses, and two entwined ribbons at margin. This paper is paired with border number forty-seven shown above.
Antique wallpaper design number fifty-three c.1815, by Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Border for number fifty-two, shown below. A drapery supported by a crescent, the sides folding around a rosette, a garland of vine leaves thrown over the drapery.
Antique wallcovering design number fifty-two c.1815, by Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Ground imitating drapery attached at each side to a cord by buttons - in the center a garland ascending of colored flowers, say clematis Virginiana and jasemin. This paper is paired with border number fifty-one shown above.
Wallpaper design number forty-four c.1814, by Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Top border for number forty-three shown below. Composed of a horizontal garland ornamented with a rose in the center and on each side with leaves and jessamine in gray colors, the top ornamented with pearls, palms, and rosettes in gold colors on a purple spotted ground work, under the garland a design in Arabic style, imitating embroidery, terminated with a cord in gold colors supporting the drapery of the paper number forty-three.
Wallpaper design number forty-three c.1814, by Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Ground imitating a drapery, shaded and lighted by stripes and ornaments in sections of a circle, printed in grey and white on a lighter grey ground. The center is ornamented with ascending bunches of roses and cape jessamine alternately, on one side a bar ascending composed of pearls, gold colors. This paper is paired with border number forty-four shown above.
Wallpaper design number fifty c.1815, by Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Border for number forty-nine shown below. Forming a cornice divided by an ornament Arabesque set with palms, in the center a medallion, and beneath two palms bowed. The top part imitating gilded bronze, and the lower part participating in the same colours as number forty-nine
Wallpaper design number forty-nine c.1815, by Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Ground in Arabic style, composed of an Arabesque ascending in the center - the sides lighted and shaded by horizontal lines, terminating in points - on one side an ornament indented and studded with flat pearls forming a column. This paper is paired with border number fifty shown above.
Wallpaper design number fifty-five c.1815, by Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Border for number fifty-four - festoon terminating in points, ornamented with fringe, crescents, and stars - the lower border printed on the same piece with ornaments of stars and palms.
Wallpaper design by Messrs. Virchaux & Co., composed of arch and trees c.1816.
Wallpaper design number sixty six, by Messrs. Virchaux & Co. circa 1815.
[Images of wallpaper from Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division]