Panoramic wallpaper, The Tomb of Clorinda and the Crusaders’ Camp

Panoramic wallpaper, The Tomb of Clorinda and the Crusaders’ Camp

Dufour & Leroy factory
Paris, 1830-1831
Joined paper, hand-brushed ground, wood-block printing
After Jerusalem Delivered (1581), an epic poem by Torquato Tasso (1544-1595)
Inv. 29270.1
© Les Arts Décoratifs

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The subject chosen for this panoramic wallpaper, made in 1830, is the story of Rinaldo and Armida from the poem Jerusalem Delivered by Torquato Tasso. The historical context is that of the crusades, primarily a pretext for splendid landscapes featuring small figures in historical dress. This wallpaper reflects the emergence of the gothic-inspired “Troubadour” style, which became extremely popular. Wallpapers with narrative landscapes proposed a completely new approach to interior design; the whole surface of the walls was used to create a continuous decorative scheme punctuated by the vertical doors and windows, with the seams between the wallpaper panels being disguised by clumps of trees or buildings dotted around the landscape. The motifs were wood-block printed, but the backgrounds were hand-brushed (the only means of obtaining the subtle gradation of the sky).

Joseph Dufour, renowned for his production of panoramic wallpapers, also aimed to convey an educational message; this is indicated by an explanatory booklet on his work, in which he wrote, “A mother can give history and geography lessons to a bright little girl […]. The vegetation can serve as an introduction to the history of plants.”

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