Storybook Cottage Landscape Frieze

Item ID: WH-1116-529C
Style: Medieval/heraldic
Date: 1900s
Theme: Views/landscape
Type: Framed, Frieze
Mnfr: M.H. Birge & Sons, Buffalo, New York
Dimensions: 39.38"w x 28.38" h x 1.75" d (paper: 33"w x 21.25" h)

One of Birge’s most famous and striking productions, the Castle Frieze first appeared in the 1906 Birge Book of Decorative Suggestions, and featured a fantastically romantic medieval castle on a rocky crag of an island. Visitors passed religious shrines as they crossed over a bridge and through a gate with portcullis to reach an unmatched hilltop redoubt with red-tiled turrets and banners flying.

Attributed to Swiss wallpaper designer Alfred Egli, the Castle Frieze was hand block printed on heavy paper, embossed, then brushed with rich stains by hand to approximate the look of aged leather. The frieze was a charming tour de force, but you wouldn’t want the castle element repeating every few feet – thus this “landscape extension” allowed any spacing between castles desired.

This quaint cottage landscape scene is taken from an exceptionally rare remnant roll that was part of a large collection of Birge papers held by the family of Henry Gramlich, who moved to Buffalo to work for Birge in 1901, remaining there well into the 1930s. Gramlich saved remnant rolls throughout his years at the company, and Bolling & Company was fortunate enough to purchase much of this astounding collection (stored in a family fruit cellar for decades) from his great-granddaughter in 2012. This paper is one of the finest in the trove, and the one we had the most ambivalence about cutting.

An example of the full design with Alfred Egli’s beautiful medieval castle element – donated by the family – can be seen online in the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum digital collection.

Very limited additional repeats available.

Birge Pattern No. 8350.

 


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