-->

February 19, 2014

The Ruins of Rome: an amazing hand-painted 18th century grisaille wallpaper

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aY5DSDvDkys/Uu1p5hcEcsI/AAAAAAAAH9A/2o_DguI7Otk/s1600/ruins+of+rome+met1.jpg
Wallpaper from Van Rensselaer Manor House. ca. 1768, Tempera on watercolor paper. Gift of Dr. Howard Van Rensselaer, 1928. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A few weeks ago I met up with my friend Abby from Schuyler Mansion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We made our way to the The Virginia and Leonard Marx Gallery in the American Wing to check out the Van Rensselaer Manor room.  The room is enveloped in soft yellows and gray, very inviting and cozy. Here she told me about the original eighteenth-century grisaille wallpaper which was donated to the Met, but once hung in the front hall of the Van Rensselaer Manor House.

This hand-painted wallpaper known as The Ruins of Rome was ordered and custom made in London for the Van Rensselaer's New York Manor home around the year 1768.  It shows several views of Roman ruins based on the engravings of Panini, an artist who produced several such works during the early and mid 18th century.

The Ruins of Rome wallpaper was only made for the Van Rensselaer Manor House, the Jeremiah Lee Mansion and the Schuyler Mansion - all three of the bespoke orders were unique and designed for each home's specific dimensions. The paper brought the chic style and tastes of Britain to these American colony homes.

Ruins of Rome Wallpaper from Van Rensselaer Manor House. ca. 1768, Tempera on watercolor paper. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Lauren.

Recently the Jeremiah Lee Mansion in Massachusetts was able to restore and repair their Ruins of Rome wallpaper which dates to 1768.  Philip Schuyler installed the hand-painted wallpaper he purchased in the front hallway hallway on both floors of his Albany NY mansion in the early 1760s.   Now Schuyler Mansion is preparing to have the front hall put back to it's 18th-century splendor by installing a digital reproduction of the papers in the mansion's Front Hall.

Schuyler Mansion Interior view of the Hamilton Room. 1761-2. Albany (N.Y.). 

In 1806 the mansion was sold and owned by several private owners, becoming an orphanage in the late 19th century.  The orphanage sold the house to the state and it opened as an  historic site in 1917.

The Ruins of Rome wallpaper project is part of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the mansion being an historic site. Rooms in the house are in several states of being finished and restored and only one room is completely restored to its 18th-century character (a bedroom, see image below).

How to support The Ruins of Rome Project:


It is very exciting to see a project come up that focuses on restoration and in particular to see an 18th century home restored to its original state.

  1. You can make a donation directly to the historic site!

  2. Spread the word!   Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or wherever!  



Historic Schuyler Mansion


Philip Hooker, Philip Schuyler Mansion, Albany, New York (headpiece on manuscript description and appraisal of the property), 1818, Watercolor and brown ink on paper. New-York Historical Society

The Green Chamber, restored to 18th century appearance. Schuyler Mansion, photograph. Photo by Abby
Center Hall. Schuyler Mansion, photograph. Photo by Abby
Dining Room. Schuyler Mansion, photograph. Photo by Abby

The Ruins of Rome Wallpaper


Ruins of Rome Wallpaper, Roman Ruins. ca. 1768, Tempera on watercolor paper. From the Van Rensselaer Manor. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ruins of Rome Wallpaper from Van Rensselaer Manor House. ca. 1768, Tempera on watercolor paper. Gift of Dr. Howard Van Rensselaer, 1928. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Lauren.

Ruins of Rome Wallpaper from Van Rensselaer Manor House. ca. 1768, Tempera on watercolor paper. Gift of Dr. Howard Van Rensselaer, 1928. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Lauren.

Ruins of Rome Wallpaper from Van Rensselaer Manor House. ca. 1768, Tempera on watercolor paper. Gift of Dr. Howard Van Rensselaer, 1928. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Wallpaper from Van Rensselaer Manor House. ca. 1768, Tempera on watercolor paper. Gift of Dr. Howard Van Rensselaer, 1928. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Wallpaper from Van Rensselaer Manor House. ca. 1768, Tempera on watercolor paper. Gift of Dr. Howard Van Rensselaer, 1928. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Related Reading:



2 comments

  1. It's amazing what you come up with!! Love love love this beautiful blog.

    ReplyDelete