Using Victorian style wallpaper in your home is a great way to evoke the era’s rich heritage and history. The Victorian era is well known for its eclectic, even startling mix of styles, from historical revivals and anti-industrial returns to nature to futurism and Oriental exoticism. Our Victorian Collection showcases these varying design trends, offering roomsets with harmonizing wall and ceiling patterns that are easy to coordinate.
The Victorian era was marked by rapid technological improvements in paper production and the printing process, with new techniques allowing for more complex printed patterns and larger scale designs than ever before. As a result, wallpaper became one of the most important elements in interior decoration. Technical advances in printing allowed for the first time that printed textiles and wallpaper could be reproduced in a wide variety of colors. The development of a machine called the Fourdrinier printing press permitted the use of continuous rolls of paper instead of individual sheets of etchings. This made the cost of creating patterns affordable to many more people. Initially, the paper was printed in separate colors, then the motifs were cut out and applied individually to the wall as a decorative element called a ‘frieze’. The earliest examples were a simple geometric pattern or a floral motif (Krasner-Khait). Later, more elaborate designs such as shields or vases were created from multiple wood blocks and printed to appear three-dimensional, a technique known as trompe l’oeil.
Victorian floral patterns were popular, as they symbolized love and devotion, particularly in the context of marriage. Architectural and landscape prints were also popular. The 1868 wallpaper at Doddington Hall, for example, contains framed figures and landscapes, with roses and carnations interspersed. The Victorians loved nature and entomology, and used animals, birds, plants and flowers as the basis for many of their wallpaper and fabric designs.
Among the most innovative Victorian pattern designers were William Morris and Walter Crane, the founders of the English Arts & Crafts movement. They were inspired by Pre-Raphaelite motifs, and both worked to incorporate themes of medieval art into their work. They designed a range of both wall and ceiling patterns, as well as ornamented papers for the wealthy.
Other Victorian designs were more abstract. The “Tudoresque” style of the era incorporated swags, garlands, and trellis motifs. Another style incorporated a symmetrical geometric design, often on a red ground.
Another important element of Victorian patterned wallpaper was the inclusion of scenes of everyday life. These portrayed domestic activities and natural scenery, and were frequently painted in vivid colors. These scenes were intended to remind the viewer of the beauty and joy of life.
One of the most interesting features of Victorian patterned wallpaper was its use of color to create effects of light and shadow. This technique was achieved by using a combination of gold, silver and mica. The mica reflected the light, while the gold and silver added contrast and depth. The effect was also enhanced by the use of a gilded edge around the wallpaper.