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Office of News and Information
212 Whitehead Hall / 3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-2692
Phone: (410) 516-7160 / Fax (410) 516-5251

August 8, 1996
CONTACT: Leslie Rice

Works of Art: America's First Wallpapers

By the late 1700s, wallpaper had conquered the New World. By then, vivid damask and paper prints of flowers, ivy, Corinthian columns, Greek arches, and stripes of almost every design and color imaginable dominated walls from Williamsburg to Boston.

By the 1780s, block print wallpapers, mostly from England and France, had became the main element of interior design, replacing wood paneling on walls. Those who couldn't afford paper, which cost about a day's wages per wall, imitated this new style with stenciling.

The early art of wallpaper in America will be the subject of this year's Homewood House Museum Symposium on 19th Century History. "Enhancing Historic Interiors: 18th & 19th Century Wallpaper in America," an all-day symposium will be held Oct. 24 from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Meyerhoff Auditorium in the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The symposium, sponsored by Homewood House Museum at The Johns Hopkins University and the Baltimore Museum of Art, Friends of the American Wing, will examine some of the latest research by two of the nations' foremost experts in the use of wallpaper from the Colonial and Federal periods. Tickets to the symposium also include a catered lunch at the BMA and a post-lecture reception at nearby Homewood House.

Margaret Pritchard, curator of maps and prints at Colonial Williamsburg will present a slide lecture detailing recent research in the use of wallpaper in Colonial Williamsburg and surrounding mansions.

Richard Nylander, curator of collections for the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities and author of Wallpapers for Historic Buildings will look at what people have historically done with their walls, using slides of American papered walls dating between 1700 and 1900.

The symposium will also feature a video illustrating the traditional block printing process step by step.

An exhibit of early American wallpaper usage in Maryland will be displayed at Homewood House from Oct. 24 until Dec. 1.

Tickets to the symposium are $50 per person, registration is required. To register, call (410) 516-5589.

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