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A Generational Approach to Chinese Wallpaper by Tabitha Sabky

American cultural heritage antique wallpaper chinoiserie wallpaper cultural historian Hamlen chinoiserie wallpaper Hamlen Collection historic preservation Tabitha Sabky Wallquest digital wallpaper

By Tabitha Cora Sabky

Original Hamlen chinoiserie wallpaper, early 19th century, hand painted on silk 

Hamlen antique chinoiserie wallpaper, original hand painted on silk c 1840, one of 14 panels

          "The history of the Hamlen Collection wallpaper offers something quite wonderful for American cultural heritage

Tabitha Sabky is a cultural historian, historic preservationist and author of Aestheticizing Identity and Commodifying Place: Chinese Wallpaper and the British Atlantic in the Eighteenth-Century, the award winning master's thesis for the Department of Architectural History at the University of Virginia School of Architecture in 2019. She is a speaker and planner of architectural and cultural events.

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          "-- there is nothing subtle about this paper, it forces one to explore the illuminated topographies of it's visual landscape"

antique Hamlen chinoiserie original hand painted on silk c1840

Tabitha_Sabky_Hamlen_Chinoiserie_History_Holly Alderman_2

          "Chinese luxury goods had become increasingly synonymous with wealth and good taste within American society more broadly in the 19th century and could offer social capital and value in the home" 

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          "The reproductions are significant because they allow a wider audience to be able to own and appreciate the beauty of the historic pieces in their home as their own family asset"

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          "The Hamlen Collection certainly remains true to the visual language and reimagination of the past, while adapting to find new meaning in the 21st century"

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This article on the Hamlen chinoiserie is commissioned by Holly Alderman.

Copyright © 2020 by Tabitha Sabky, Etna NH. All rights reserved. No copies or transmissions without written permission of the author. 

For views of originals and new editions, browse

Photo credits: Copyright ©2020 by Devens Hamlen, Boston. All rights reserved. First portrait photo is Nathaniel Perez Hamlin, who procured the Chinese wallpaper. Black and white photo of original wallpaper by Tabitha Sabky. Color photos of Hamlen original by Holly Alderman. 

New custom editions, fine digital printing by Wallquest in USA, with delivery to over 60 countries. Museum quality scans of original Hamlen chinoiserie panels by Kathy Tarantola Photography, who is also a photographer for the Peabody Essex Museum.

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