'Wat kan een mensch meer vergenoegen, dan dat hy, zonder een voet uit zyne kamer te zetten, de geheele waereld doorwandelt'.
Gerard de Lairesse (1640 – 1711)
Hand-painted wallpaper, a Dutch Heritage
The Dutch Golden Age is famous for its painters like Rembrandt, Vermeer and Rubens. But little is known about hand-painted wallpapers from that period. Painting landscapes on paper was a typical Dutch craft. Between the 17th and the 18th century hundreds of walls must have been covered with hand-painted wallpapers as a sign of luxury and wealth.
In the 17th century hand-painted wallpaper was a less expensive replacement for Tapestries(Gobelins). Another advantage was that clients could order customized wall coverings and choose size, style and subject of the sceneries.
During the early 18th century hand-painted wallpapers were made accessible for all. The Dutch had a dozen workplaces and factories producing hand-painted wallpaper on a massive scale. In the early 19th century the hand-painted wallpaper became less popular and factories had to close. This was mostly due to a diminished Dutch economy and the foreign industrial revolution, which introduced printed wallpaper.
By the 20th century large town houses and estates where converted into offices, hospitals or schools. The (detachable) hand-painted wallpapers where considered impractical and were mostly sold to foreign buyers as works of art. The consequence is that only a few survived in the Netherlands.
Gardens on Paper
About two hundred years later, wallpaper artists Marcelo Gimenes and Jaap Snijder from Snijder&CO picked up this forgotten craft. “After exploring remaining wallpaper samples in museums we decided to work only with modern materials. We did not want to copy the old samples but build upon a Dutch tradition of custom designed wallpaper sceneries”. Each design is completely handmade and is inspired by nature. With endless passion they paint flowers, plants and birds. Leaf by leaf creating beautiful gardens on paper.
They do not work with oil paint or the stencil technique of Chinese wallpaper (Chinoiserie). “We use just ordinary wall paint, this requires a different way of working but it creates a great atmosphere with its bright colours and matte appearance”.
By working together on one design they mix their styles into something new never losing track of its decorative purpose. The wallpaper should always fit in the room for which it was intended. So they make, just like the Dutch wallpaper painter Jurriaan Andriessen (1742-1819), previously detailed sketches and sometimes a scale model for the customer to provide a good understanding of the product.
“It requires a lot of dedication to paint commissioned wallpaper entirely by hand. It is a very labour-intensive craft”. The hand-painted wallpaper of Snijder&CO is a contemporary version of the Dutch historical predecessor a new style they like to call "Dutchoiserie".