Block-Printed Wallpaper at the V&A (London)

1875, William Morris, Acanthus, block-printed wallpaper using 30 blocks in 15 distemper colours, on paper

I’ve been doing a fair amount of research on French and British 19th century wallpaper these days, and I came across this fascinating video showing how William Morris’ wallpapers are printed by hand (this one, Acanthus, is from 1874). Printed wallpaper has existed in Britain since the 16th century, which is pretty amazing (the earliest known surviving example, is at the Master’s Lodge in Christ’s College, Cambridge). If you’re interested in such things, the V&A has a fantastic collection of wallpapers, most of which you can see on their online collection. At the V&A Art Library, you can even request prints to be pulled out and you can hang out with them for a while. It’s great.

More wallpaper tidbits to come!

1874, William Morris, design for Acanthus wallpaper, pencil, watercolour and bodycolour on paper

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Categories: Interesting Printmaking

4 Responses to “Block-Printed Wallpaper at the V&A (London)”

  1. Thank you for posting this fascinating video! I am working with the MoDA wallpaper collection in Middlesex at the moment, on a very different kind of project. But many of the folks who I have spoken with have expressed an interest in how some of the older papers were made, and your video link does at least partially clear that up! It’s fascinating to see the stages between Morris’s drawing and the final paper.

  2. Faith says:

    That’s waaay too beautiful to just be wallpaper… wow. Can’t imagine the amount of work involved!


  3. Jason Urban says:

    This video is fantastic, Julia! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Guerra Girl says:

    I’m in awe and in love! Thirty blocks is hard to imagine but I’m not surprised at the depth of his design. William Morris was amazing!