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.

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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.

Collection Highlights

wallpaper
Panel of Chinese wallpaper, about 1750 – 1800, China
wallpaper
Unused sheet of wallpaper, about 1780 – 1800, England
wallpaper
Wallpaper illustrating the Crystal Palace, manufactured by Heywood, Higginbottom & Smith, about 1853 – 55, Manchester, England
wallpaper sample book
(Inside) Page from a sample book of wallpapers supplied for the decoration of the Palace of Westminster, A.W.N Pugin, 1851 – 59, England
wallpaper
Wallpaper, designed by Owen Jones, manufactured by Townsend, Parker & Co., about 1852 – 74, Britain
wallpaper
Portion of a classical 'pillar and arch' wallpaper, about 1769, England
wallpaper
Panel of red flock wallpaper, identical in pattern with the paper formerly hung in the Queen's Drawing Room at Hampton Court Palace, about 1735, England
wallpaper
Tits in Space, wallpaper, by Sarah Lucas, manufactured by The Archive Printing Company Ltd., 2000, UK
wallpaper
Portion of wallpaper with a design commemorating Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, by F. Scott & Son, 1887, Hawick, England
wallpaper
Portion of Lunar wallpaper, designed by Michael Clarke, manufactured by Cole & Son, 1964, England
wallpaper
Acanthus, wallpaper, designed by William Morris, manufactured by Jeffrey & Co., 1875, Britain
wallpaper
Portion of 'Provence' wallpaper, designed by Lucienne Day, manufactured by John Line & Sons Ltd., 1951, England

Features

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