Illustrated by a rich collection of wallpaper designs from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, this exhibition revealed the wealth of artistic invention in French decorative arts from the late 18th- through early 19th century.

The Borders of Eclecticism: French Wallpapers, 1789-1830 examined a period in France when decorative wallpaper borders were one of the dominant features of interior design. Though borders always played a role in wallpaper design, they took on a prominence during this period. Manufacturers invested heavily in border patterns, utilizing methods of extreme complexity in their production. When creating borders, the manufacturer and designer sought to convey a sense of volume and therefore chose their materials deliberately: matte or glossy colors, flocking, material ornaments. It wasn’t until the First and Second World Wars that wallpaper borders began to be cut by template, ushering in a new era of innovation breaking with the traditional manufacturing methods. The designs featured were printed in the ateliers of Jean-Baptiste Réveillon’s manufactory or by his successors, Jacquemart and Bénard. Also shown in the exhibition were tools used in wallpaper production at the time.

This exhibition appeared in tandem with another, also organized by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs: Form, Function, and Beauty: Early Nineteenth-Century French Watercolors of Domestic Objects. Bard Graduate Center was the only venue in the United States to host the two exhibitions.