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Randall House - Wolfville Historical Society

Wallpaper


Accession number: 09.13.01
Category: Surface element
Date: circa 1821
Materials: Paper
Measurements: 59.5 cm L x 59.5 cm W
Marks/Label: A hand written label underneath the framed segment of paper visible through a cut out in the mat: A fragment of wallpaper/from the T.A.S. DeWolf House/ (demolished)
Narrative: This framed segment of a courting couple is a small remnant that remains of the French scenic wallpaper that once hung on the parlour walls of the Thomas Andrew Strange DeWolf (1795-1878) and Nancy Ratchford (1798-1883)c house in Wolfville that was once situated near the harbour. The couple were married on Dec. 30, 1817 and the house was erected soon after. Later, the house was rented from the Wolfville Fruit company and used as the first Wolfville Historical Society museum but was later demolished. A photo taken by Edson Graham of the room with the wallpaper was given to Annie L. Prat who had done some restoration of the wallpaper in 1942 is also in the collection. The story goes that the wallpaper was purportedly a wedding gift to the newly weds from Prince Edward, Duke of Kent & Strathearn (1767-1820). The Duke of Kent was entertained by Elisha DeWolf and family when he visited Wolfville during his residency in Halifax after his appointment to Commander-in-chief of the forces in British North America.
Description: Piece of wallpaper showing a man seated on a bench talking to a woman in a white gown who is standing in front of him. There is a path leading up to the bench and has large green trees in the background. The wallpaper is mounted with green mat and in a wood frame.
History of Use: French Scenic Wallpaper grew in popularity towards the end of the 18th century and the quality of the French papers was probably their most important selling point in North America. The scenes were printed using a series of specially carved wood blocks in which each detail and element had to be built up by superimposing one block impression atop another with flat opaque colours. Sometimes thousands of blocks were carved and hundreds of colours mixed to produce a detailed and varied landscape that displayed a rich palette of tones and variations of a fully coloured scene. The ‘sets’ in the DeWolf parlour were from a popular theme known as Les Jardins Français c. 1820 and designed by Antoine Pierre Mongin (1761-1827) who was a leading designer for the Zuber & Cie Company since 1803. His designs were known for the quality of romantized classicism with references to Greek and Roman architecture dotting an Arcadian landscape where courting couples were ardently expressing their love. In the DeWolf case this was an apt choice for the young newlyweds. Wallpaper had been imported into Halifax since 1752 as recorded in the Halifax Gazette. “Paper Hangings” as they were known were offered for sale by a number of merchants in different qualities and at different prices. A man who produced wallpaper in the 18th and early 19th century was known as a ‘paper stainer’ who purchased blank paper, glued it together to make a roll and then added colour and patterning.
Manufacturer: Zuber & Cie