Visualizing 19th-Century New York Digital Publication

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Sample of Wallpaper Decorated with New York City Landmarks

ca. 1840–50

Block-printed paper in colors

20 7/8 × 19 3/4 in. (52.9 × 50.1 cm)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Edward W.C. Arnold Collection of New York Prints, Maps and Pictures, Bequest of Edward W. C. Arnold, 1954, 54.90.734

Mid-century viewers would have instantly recognized these scenes, which were reproduced from other printed forms: Wall Street, the Battery and Castle Garden, Trinity and Grace Churches, and City Hall. Ten percent of the average budget for decorating a parlor, according to Victorian tastemakers, was spent on wallpaper. A newly commercial product accessible to multiple levels of society, wallpaper served to spread good taste by putting art into even the humblest of homes.

Hannah Wirta Kinney