In the 21st century, most of us associate french wallpaper with floral motifs and paisleys. And it is true that those are still popular choices, but there is much more to the design world than just those two styles. For instance, modern alpine hut-styled wallpapers featuring forest scenes with roaring stags or cute deer can add an elegant touch to the living room of anyone who loves the outdoors. This is also the case with a wide range of textured wallpapers featuring natural wood grain patterns or sophisticated arabesques.
Despite the fact that it seems likely that wallpaper was first developed in England, it was soon adopted in France too. By the early 17th century artisan shopkeepers were producing a wide variety of decorative papers to use as lining paper, book endpapers, and as wall decoration. They used a variety of techniques, but the most notable were trompe l’oeil wood-grain and geometric designs printed using wooden blocks, or papiers de tapisserie imitating various fabrics and architectural elements such as panelling or plaster mouldings.
It was in the 1750s that the real explosion of interest in wallpaper took place. This was due to the huge success of Jean-Baptiste Reveillon’s splendidly printed and flocked papers. Already well-known among the nobility, Reveillon’s designs received an enormous boost when Marie Antoinette chose them to decorate her royal apartments at Versailles. Two other leading manufacturers followed the lead of Reveillon, Joseph Dufour in Lyon, and Zuber in Rixheim, Alsace. They produced richly coloured panoramic wallpapers of exotic scenes – such as Dufour’s designs featuring Captain Cook’s South Seas expeditions and Zuber’s Les Vues de Suisse (1804), L’Hindoustan (1807), and Les Vues d’Amerique du Nord (mis-dated as 1834).
While neoclassical trends in painting influenced the 18th century styles, it was the art nouveau movement that really launched the modern look for wallpaper. This was a more purely expressive style, free of the strict rules and forms imposed by the Baroque period, and it was reflected in the designs created for wallpapers. The result was a series of floral, foliate, and curvilinear shapes with overlapping layers.
This look is now one of the most popular themes in wallpapers, with designs ranging from clean-lined stripes to flowing florals and delicate paisleys. It is also possible to find designs inspired by the architecture of the 19th century – either the neoclassical style of the empire period or the more organically fluid forms of art nouveau.
The 20th century saw a revival in the popularity of wallpaper as an alternative to paint. This was helped by a new technology that allowed the manufacture of papers to be made with a web of fibres rather than a traditional paper surface. This meant that the new textured wallpapers were easier to hang, and didn’t need to be pasted on the back.
The 21st century has seen a resurgence in the popularity of wallpaper, with many brands creating designs that combine retro motifs with more modern styles. For example, Anna French’s wallpapers are a great way to bring an element of traditional French décor to a contemporary home. These wallpapers are a perfect choice for a modern living room or bedroom, and can be combined with other motifs such as gingham checks or polka dots. papier peint francais