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What is this?

Wallpaper designed for the French Revolution, illustrated with oakleaf wreath enclosing crossed fasces, sword & Phrygian cap. Tricolor ribbons wrapped around fluted column bear legend: "Soyons Unis/Nous Serons/Invincibles."

This object is full of stories

This is a paper from the French Revolution, wood block-printed ca. 1792. The citizens of France felt that the Revolution could not be won just by fighting in political circles or on the battlefield and had to also occur in the ordinary citizen’s everyday life. It was believed that symbols had a powerful effect on the spirit and could reinforce the validity of the new principles. The domestic nature of wallpaper as well its repetitive aspect made it an ideal medium for portraying such motifs, and bringing these ideals into the home. This paper contains numerous symbols of the Revolution including the red Phrygian cap, cockade, and a banner with the words liberty and equality, which are all combined in this rather beautiful format. Unlike posters or flyers used today for the spread of information, these are block-printed wallpapers, made by some of the top French manufacturers. The Cooper Hewitt contains about a dozen different versions of these papers, both sidewalls and borders.

This is a sidewall and attached border from France. It is dated ca. 1792 and we acquired it in 1986. Gift of John Jay Ide Collection.

Its medium is

block-printed on handmade paper

Its dimensions are

H x W: 45.5 x 77.5 cm (17 15/16 x 30 1/2 in. )

This object was catalogued by Gregory Herringshaw and donated by Mrs. John Jay Ide

See more stuff from the Wallcoverings department.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=http://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18806073/ |title=Sidewall And Attached Border, ca. 1792 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=19 December 2014 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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