The wallpaper appeared in China, as a decorative element, approximately two hundred years before Christ. It was rudimentarly produced with rice paper, totally white, so without any kind of decorative detail.
Later, it began to be produced with the vegetal parchment, gaining colors and reasons. The paper paintings were handmade by craftsmen, and then came the decorative wooden stamps, which were soaked in ink to print the drawings. The strips resulting from this work were then glued to the walls, replacing the originals that adorned the palaces of mandaris and wealthy merchants.
Europe came to have more contact with China from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the wall paper appeared on the European continent by the hands of Arab merchants, who learned from the Chinese their production. It was used to decorate part of the walls, windows and doors, replacing the screens and tapestries.
Up to 1500, there were limited variations of Chinese-themed wallpapers in Europe; hence the term Chineseisserie. With the arrival of Italian Renaissance artists in France, at the invitation of Francis I, came the totally European standards. However, the leaves were still too small and the quality of reproduction medium; all at a very slow pace of production.
In 1630, the first wallpaper factory, Papel-Toutisses, was inaugurated in Roven, France.
In 1675 the French engraver Jean Papillon applied the same principle used in the engraving: the passage of the drawings into blocks of wood, also allowing the use of color without technical restrictions. Colorful and cheap, the wallpapers were used in purses, giving rise to a fashion that definitely became popular in the eighteenth century. At the time, the French royal house was the one that least spared the wallpaper when decorating its palaces: Louis XI ordered angels on blue background of Jean Bourdichon; Louis XV demanded roles influenced by the rococo to Jean Pillement; and Luis XVI abandoned the Chineseisserie, decreeing papers with romantic or classic motifs.
In 1770, a wallpaper and flocking factory was inaugurated in Paris.
In 1870, Juan Zuber installed in the French commune of Rixheim a wall paper factory that worked until 1939, in which dye printing techniques were perfected. The Zuber factory also launched the first roll with more than four linear meters of ready-to-use wallpaper.
"Artichoke" Wallpaper, from John Henry Dearle to William Morris & Co., 1897 (Victoria and Albert Museum).
In 1634, England began its production in Cambridge. The first multicolored papers were printed in 1750. In 1783 the so-called Royal Manufactory employed about four hundred artisans. The Chippendale, inspired by the French rococo, became the best-selling and sought-after paper in London, but it was very varied. In 1814 came the printing machine, created by Konig, innovating and improving the papermaking process. Konig's machine accurately sprinkled cotton and silk fibers on the still fresh paint, resulting in transparency and overlapping with embossed patterns. Thus came the so-called flock. Queen Victoria had the walls of Hampton Court lined with the flock for her honeymoon with Prince Albert.
The progressive industrialization ended up causing a fall in the artistic quality. William Morris, founder of the Arts & crafts movement, favored a return to craftsmanship, elevating artisans to artists and thus avoiding cheap industrial manufacture of decorative arts and architecture. Morris would take advantage of the cheerful and floral patterns of the chintze (a fabric used in curtains and furniture covers) by applying them to the paper. The results were so bad that today the English use the expression chintzy to refer to everything that is in bad taste.
The mix between patterns and brackets drove the industry, which Morris fought, to throw the paper for children and the washable. English firms of the time, such as Jeffrey and Company or Shand Kydd, became famous.
In Brazil, wallpaper appeared due to strong European immigration in the late nineteenth century. However, until 1930, the import of this product was small, due to the high costs, and then forgotten for years. In 1960, with the modernization of Brazilian industry and with the reduction of costs, paper became a popular decorative wall covering.