We need your help

Hello. We are working to improve our collections online and would like to understand better how our visitors use our site. Please could you spare two minutes to answer some questions?
Take the survey
No thanks. Continue to the V&A website

Wallpaper

Throughout the Museum and Archive of Art & Design

Plan a visit

Whatever you have in your rooms think first of the walls for they are that which makes your house and home

William Morris

For most of its history, wallpaper has been the poor relation of the decorative arts. Fragile, ephemeral, and easy to replace, wallpaper has often disappeared from the historical record. The V&A began collecting wallpapers from its foundation in 1856, and today has one of the finest collections in the world.

Read more
See less
Our wallpaper collection reveals the fascinating history of its evolution from the first black and white patterns in the 16th century, through to 18th-century flock designs, Chinese hand-painted papers, architectural papers, designs by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement, and modernist and contemporary designs in the 20th century.

Exploring Wallpaper

Photo of Panel of Chinese wallpaper, unknown maker, about 1750 – 1800, probably Canton, China. Museum no. E.3944-1915. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Panel of Chinese wallpaper, unknown maker, about 1750 – 1800, probably Canton, China. Museum no. E.3944-1915. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Unused sheet of wallpaper, unknown maker, about 1780 – 1800, England. Museum no. E.937-2000. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Unused sheet of wallpaper, unknown maker, about 1780 – 1800, England. Museum no. E.937-2000. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Wallpaper illustrating the Crystal Palace, probably produced by Heywood, Higginbottom & Smith, about 1853 – 55, Manchester, England. Museum no. E.158-1934. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Wallpaper illustrating the Crystal Palace, probably produced by Heywood, Higginbottom & Smith, about 1853 – 55, Manchester, England. Museum no. E.158-1934. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Page from a sample book of wallpapers supplied for the decoration of the Palace of Westminster, A.W.N Pugin, 1851 – 9. Museum no. E.137:10-1939. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Page from a sample book of wallpapers supplied for the decoration of the Palace of Westminster, A.W.N Pugin, 1851 – 9. Museum no. E.137:10-1939. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Wallpaper with design of formalised foliage, Owen Jones, mid-19th century, England. Museum no. 8337.138. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Wallpaper with design of formalised foliage, Owen Jones, mid-19th century, England. Museum no. 8337.138. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Portion of a classical 'pillar and arch' wallpaper, unknown maker, about 1769, England. Museum no. E.964-1926. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Portion of a classical 'pillar and arch' wallpaper, unknown maker, about 1769, England. Museum no. E.964-1926. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Panel of red flock wallpaper, identical in pattern with the paper formerly hung in the Queen's Drawing Room at Hampton Court Palace, unknown maker, about 1735, England. Museum no. E.3594-1922. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Panel of red flock wallpaper, identical in pattern with the paper formerly hung in the Queen's Drawing Room at Hampton Court Palace, unknown maker, about 1735, England. Museum no. E.3594-1922. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Acanthus wallpaper, designed by William Morris, manufactured by Jeffrey & Co., 1875, England. Museum no. E.800-1915. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Acanthus wallpaper, designed by William Morris, manufactured by Jeffrey & Co., 1875, England. Museum no. E.800-1915. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Portion of ‘Tits in Space’ wallpaper, designed by Sarah Lucas, manufactured by The Archive Printing Company Ltd., 2000, England. Museum no. E.832-2000. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Portion of ‘Tits in Space’ wallpaper, designed by Sarah Lucas, manufactured by The Archive Printing Company Ltd., 2000, England. Museum no. E.832-2000. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Portion of wallpaper with a design commemorating Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, F. Scott & Son, 1887, Hawick, Scotland. Museum no. E.791-1970. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Portion of wallpaper with a design commemorating Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, F. Scott & Son, 1887, Hawick, Scotland. Museum no. E.791-1970. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Portion of 'Provence' wallpaper, designed by Lucienne Day, manufactured by John Line & Sons Ltd., 1951, England. Museum no.  E.569-1966. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Portion of 'Provence' wallpaper, designed by Lucienne Day, manufactured by John Line & Sons Ltd., 1951, England. Museum no. E.569-1966. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Portion of 'Lunar' wallpaper, designed by Michael M.S.L.A. Clarke, manufactured by Cole & Son, 1964, England. Museum no. E.952-1978. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Portion of 'Lunar' wallpaper, designed by Michael M.S.L.A. Clarke, manufactured by Cole & Son, 1964, England. Museum no. E.952-1978. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Learn more about Wallpaper

Background image: 'Fruit' (or 'Pomegranate') wallpaper pattern, designed by William Morris, manufactured by Jeffrey & Co., 1866, England. Museum no. E.447-1919. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London