The Design, Production and Reception of Eighteenth-Century Wallpaper in Britain: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Design, Production and Reception of Eighteenth-Century Wallpaper in Britain

1st Edition

By Clare Taylor


234 pages | 24 Color Illus. | 36 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781472456151
pub: 2018-06-19
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Wallpaper’s spread across trades, class and gender is charted in this first full-length study of the material’s use in Britain during the long eighteenth century. It examines the types of wallpaper that were designed and produced and the interior spaces it occupied, from the country house to the homes of prosperous townsfolk and gentry, showing that wallpaper was hung by Earls and merchants as well as by aristocratic women. Drawing on a wide range of little known examples of interior schemes and surviving wallpapers, together with unpublished evidence from archives including letters and bills, it charts wallpaper’s evolution across the century from cheap textile imitation to innovative new decorative material. Wallpaper’s growth is considered not in terms of chronology, but rather alongside the categories used by eighteenth-century tradesmen and consumers, from plains to flocks, from China papers to papier mâché and from stucco papers to materials for creating print rooms. It ends by assessing the ways in which eighteenth-century wallpaper was used to create historicist interiors in the twentieth century. Including a wide range of illustrations, many in colour, the book will be of interest to historians of material culture and design, scholars of art and architectural history as well as practicing designers and those interested in the historic interior.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of figures and plates



1.‘Paper hangings for Rooms’: the arrival of wallpaper

2. A contested trade

3. Imitation and the cross-cultural encounter: ‘India’ and ‘mock India’ papers, pictures and prints

4. In search of propriety: flocks and plains

5. Challenging the high arts: papier mâché, stucco papers and ‘landskip’ papers

6. ‘Our modern paper hangings’: in search of the fashionable and the new

7. Epilogue


  1. List of principal wallpapered rooms discussed, c.1714-c.1795.
  2. List of eighteenth-century London paper hangings tradesmen discussed.


About the Author

Clare Taylor is Senior Lecturer in Art History, The Open University.

About the Series

The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting, 1700-1950

The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting provides a forum for the broad study of object acquisition and collecting practices in their global dimensions from 1700 to 1950. The series seeks to illuminate the intersections between material culture studies, art history, and the history of collecting. It takes as its starting point the idea that objects both contributed to the formation of knowledge in the past and likewise contribute to our understanding of the past today. The human relationship to objects has proven a rich field of scholarly inquiry, with much recent scholarship either anthropological or sociological rather than art historical in perspective. Underpinning this series is the idea that the physical nature of objects contributes substantially to their social meanings, and therefore that the visual, tactile, and sensual dimensions of objects are critical to their interpretation. This series therefore seeks to bridge anthropology and art history, sociology and aesthetics. It encompasses the following areas of concern: 1. Material culture in its broadest dimension, including the high arts of painting and sculpture, the decorative arts (furniture, ceramics, metalwork, etc.), and everyday objects of all kinds. 2. Collecting practices, be they institutionalized activities associated with museums, governmental authorities, and religious entities, or collecting done by individuals and social groups. 3. The role of objects in defining self, community, and difference in an increasingly international and globalized world, with cross-cultural exchange and travel the central modes of object transfer. 4. Objects as constitutive of historical narratives, be they devised by historical figures seeking to understand their past or in the form of modern scholarly narratives. The series publishes interdisciplinary and comparative research on objects that addresses one or more of these perspectives and includes monographs, thematic studies, and edited volumes of essays.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Residential
ARCHITECTURE / History / General
ARCHITECTURE / Interior Design / General
ART / History / General
ART / European
ART / Popular Culture
DESIGN / General
DESIGN / Interior Decorating
HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
HISTORY / Modern / 18th Century