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"Decorative Painting"

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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John Sawin was a resident of Greenfield, Massachusetts, when he sent around this handbill advertising his work. He would probably be known today as an interior decorator, as his handbill advertises a wide variety of wall decorations. The explosion of technology and techniques in the 19th century led to the creation of a number of home decorating products. One of them advertised here is "fresco paper." This wallpaper was skillfully designed to imitate architectural features. For example, one line of paper imitated wood grain and moldings. Paper like this was most often made with hand stamps in the 1840s, although papers made with patterns on continuous-roll machines increasingly improved in quality through the 1850s and 1860s. By around 1860, hand-stamped paper had disappeared, although it was revived briefly in the late 1890s by Arts and Crafts devotees like William Morris. His emphasis on imported papers corresponds to the tastes of the 1850s, which was drawn particularly to French designs and borders, as is his emphasis on Greek Revival styles.


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