Victorian style wallpaper is a rich design choice for your home. Bold flowers, leaves and other botanicals adorn Victorian style patterns along with more dramatic motifs inspired by Gothic, Rococo and Eastern styles. Dark, deep colors like crimson red and emerald green are popular as well as neutral and tan tones. These wallpapers are often patterned or embossed and can be used in room settings from the formal to the informal.
The Victorian era saw many changes in the decorative arts, from historical revivals and anti-industrial returns to nature to fanciful designs and Oriental exoticism. This vibrant era of change reflected the widening cultural horizons of the era. Its designers were not content with just one design style and embraced historic revival, art nouveau, anti-modernism and even futurism in enthusiastic, if sometimes startling, combinations (Bridgeman and Drury).
Up until 1840, all wallpaper was produced by hand using the block printing process, which was time consuming and labor intensive. The industry grew, however, and by the end of the 19th century production had increased from 1 million rolls in 1834 to 9 million by 1860. Towards the end of the period, manufacturers developed new printing methods that allowed for large scale repeating prints to be produced in much less time.
Initially, these new printing techniques did not seem to offer any major advantages over traditional block print, except in speed and cost. The new processes were based on the printing of calico fabrics, where paper was passed over a series of cylindrical rollers inked with different colors. As the paper was pulled through, the pattern would be printed onto the surface. The process was adapted to wallpaper manufacture by the cotton printing firm Potters and Ross in 1839. The new methods greatly sped up the process and enabled a wider range of patterns to be printed on longer lengths of wallpaper.
In the early days of machine printing, the patterns were usually engraved into rectangular wooden blocks that were then inked with paint and printed on to the paper. A variety of finishes were also possible, such as stippling (making shapes and images with small dots) and rag-rolling (using a rough folded cloth to create a marbled effect).
As the popularity of wallpaper grew, so did the number of available designs. During the Victorian era, artists and craftsmen experimented with a wide range of styles to produce an endless array of patterns and motifs. A few designers stand out, including Lindsay Butterfield, who designed floral motif wallpapers for Liberty & Co; Walter Crane, who created abstract patterns; Christopher Dresser, a pioneer of the Anglo-Japanese style; and Owen Jones, who systematized ornament and emphasized stylized forms in his book The Grammar of Ornament.
Today, you can find a vast selection of Victorian wallpaper online. Whether you want to evoke the rich history of this unique design era in your entire home or simply want to add an antique touch to your bedroom or bath, there is a wallpaper to suit your tastes.