Sunday, November 20, 2011

Masterpiece of the Week: Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Wallpaper, 1887

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This is fun. I’d like this for my powder room. Here, we see a portion of wallpaper with a design commemorating Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee of 1887 which incorporates portraits of the Queen with vignettes illustrating the people and the wildlife in the outposts of the British Empire on four continents: Australia, Canada, Cape Colony (later South Africa), and India. The paper is a color print from engraved rollers.

Wallpapers commemorating important historical events and royal anniversaries were frequently produced in the second half of the Nineteenth century. This wallpaper, like other such commemorative papers, is a “sanitary” paper--printed with oil-based colors that were not soluble in water, allowing the surface to be washable. These kinds of papers were made for inns and public spaces more so than the average home. Still, that wouldn’t stop me—even if it would have raised a few eyebrows in the 1890s.

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