Hand painted wallpaper at Fellbrig House

Two weeks on, and I'm still besotted with the Chinese wallpaper at Felbrigg Hall that I finally got to see first hand. It was put up in 1752 by a London wallpaper hanger by the name of John Scrutton. Printed as an outline, installed, then painted in by hand with a sublime colour palette. 

The skill involved in installing this paper is considerable. Physically it is very different from western paper and the drops are wider. The scenery is panoramic, requiring the joins to be either very exact or fudged and disguised. In places the paper didn’t quite fit the walls, requiring the paper hangers to employ various tricks to achieve a harmonious end result. Pieces have been cut from extra rolls and stuck over the joins to disguise breaks in the scenery, and artfully cut additions along the skirting boards have been cropped in to make disjointed elements and size discrepencies look more natural. 

That joyfully unselfconscious cultural plundering takes a keen eye and some nerve to pull off, thankfully 250 years on, and it remains beautifuly intact for me to absorb.

Rachel Lovatt