Are you ready for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Colonial Williamsburg’s world-class design archives? We are going to take you inside the hallowed spaces where you can look but can’t touch (at least not without gloves!). So turn off your camera flash, leave your bags at the door, and join us for this rare and exclusive opportunity.
Ron Redding, vice president of design for York Wallcoverings met with Colonial Williamsburg curators to discuss the antique inspirations behind two patterns in the new WILLIAMSBURG “Trend Meets Tradition” wallpaper collection by York. And we were there too—our cameras rolling.
A Timeless Classic with International Appeal
The Solomon’s Seal wallpaper pattern is based on a set of copperplate-printed window curtains in the Foundation’s collection. The finely printed antique cotton curtains depict the flowering perennial “Solomon’s Seal” in blue, one of the most widely used 18th-century pigments. Why blue? You’ll find out in the video, as Curator of Textiles and Costumes Linda Baumgarten outlines the historical significance of this piece.
In turn, Redding explains the significance of this pattern for today. In his eyes, the large-scale floral motif is a perfect example of why the 18th century is considered a golden age of design. It’s a look that never loses its appeal and needs only small tweaks to update it for today’s interior trends. As someone who searches worldwide for just the right inspiration for fabrics sold to more than 40 countries, Redding chose this pattern because of its national and international appeal.
Copperplate-printed fabric was a luxury because of the effort and expense needed to hand-engrave the copper plates used in its printing. Though expensive, the engraving allowed for an amazing amount of intricate detail to be pressed into the fabric. Redding and his design team have translated that same level of detail into the wallpaper design. The scale of the original pattern has been adjusted slightly, and fresh colors are offered for today’s consumer, including orange, magenta and green.
The archival fabric was printed at the Bromley Hall factory in England about 1775. The Solomon’s Seal design is also available as a WILLIAMSBURG Classic fabric by P/K Lifestyles.
John Rocque’s London Map Mural:
A Statement Piece with Outstanding Pedigree
Imagine walking 10,000 acres with a waywiser—an antique wheel for measuring distances—to survey the streets of London. That’s what cartographer John Rocque did in the 1740s to make this map, the largest map of London created in the 18th century. What drove him to undertake such a huge effort? The answer might seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised to hear the real impetus behind his work as Ron Redding discusses the original with Senior Curator of Prints and Maps, Margaret Pritchard.
As you will see in this video, the map’s surveying and engraving took several years, and the effort was funded by a list of subscribers that includes an amazing cross-section of British society. From the Prince of Wales to the small tradesman, to the host of merchants and professionals in between, the subscribers included all classes of society. Two subscribers had associations with Virginia’s last royal governors: the Duke of Beaufort was brother-in-law to Lord Botetourt, who governed in Williamsburg from 1768 to1770, and the third Earl of Dunmore’s son was Botetourt’s successor, until he fled Williamsburg at the start of the Revolution.
When Rocque surveyed London in the 1740s, the royal colony of Virginia was the largest and richest in British North America, with Williamsburg as its capital city. Virginians thought of London as their “hometown,” even if they had never crossed the Atlantic. It was this close association between London and Williamsburg that made the Rocque map such an important acquisition for Colonial Williamsburg’s collections, and a natural choice for the first WILLIAMSBURG collection with York Wallcoverings.
At 8.5’ wide by 6.5’ high, the John Rocque London Map mural matches the original’s size and comes in either linen (for the traditionalist) or an on-trend version in soft metallic bronze. A standout fusion of past and present in the “Trend Meets Tradition” wallpaper collection, the neutral finishes and antique map design perfectly suit today’s home décor.
The WILLIAMSBURG “Trend Meets Tradition” wallpaper collection by York is available in retail stores, and through interior design firms and domestic and international distributors. WILLIAMSBURG at Home, in Merchants’ Square, will carry the London map.
Guest Blogger: Kimberly Richards-Thomas
Kimberly Richards-Thomas, a public relations professional with ten years of experience in higher education communications, recently joined the WILLIAMSBURG brand. Her responsibilities include managing public relations with more than 30 licensees, growing WILLIAMSBURG brand social media presence, and writing copy for products available in the Historic Area, at nationwide retailers, and online at www.WilliamsburgMarketplace.com.
Because our products are inspired by Colonial Williamsburg history or by 18th-century art held in our museum archives, Kimberly researches the inspiration behind each piece to tell its story–and our story–to the public. In this way, her writing supports the educational mission of the Foundation while also showing how “Trend Meets Tradition.”