Fladerpapier: Art, Craft, and the Earliest Mass-Produced Wallpaper in the West

Project Summary

This project is hosted by: Institute of English Studies

Research interests:
History of the book
Europe, Europe
Project period:
31-Aug-2020 - 29-Feb-2024
Project categories:
Research project
Project summary:

In 1557, a little-known Bavarian entrepreneur named Erasmus Loy transformed the print and book trades. Dozens of his arched brown-red woodcuts were granted a novel form of privilege (precursor of copyright) for their printing technique—covering all future designs. Few survive, but dozens have been identified in the last ten years through architectural conservation in the Alps. From princely palaces to burgher’s homes, these installations explain the prints' unprecedented palettes and shapes: they are not artworks but readymade, paste-on faux-‘intarsia’ panels that imitate the expensive art of inlaid wood, complemented by 'ebony' cut-outs from woodcut book illustrations. In this project, I will undertake primary research in museums, libraries, and architectural heritage sites to reinterpret archival documentation about 'Fladerpapier' (German: 'woodgrainpaper').

In the first substantial study of the topic, I will reveal the first wallpaper 'industry' in the west and how it redefined concepts of intellectual property in early modern northern Europe.

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Management Details

Lead researcher & project contact:

Name Position Institute Organisation Contact
Dr Elizabeth Savage Senior Lecturer in Book History and Communications School of Advanced Study School of Advanced Study, University of London elizabeth.savage@sas.ac.uk



Funder Grant type Award
The British Academy Small Research Grants £10,000.00