Wednesday, October 7, 2015

An Introduction to the Yellow Parlor: Welcome and Wallpaper

by Rebecca Kurtz

Right across from the Best Parlor at Schuyler Mansion, on the opposite side of the center hall, is the Yellow Parlor. The yellow parlor was a space where the Schuyler family and their more intimate guests would have gathered to converse, read from the Bible, and enjoy activities such as playing cards and viewing prints. This room was less formal than the Best Parlor. It is called the ‘Yellow Parlor’ because early in the eighteenth century rooms were often named after their location in the house (northeast) or by their color (yellow).  Although we refer to the room as the yellow parlor today, it is likely that, by the 1780’s, the term ‘sitting room’ was being used to describe the room’s function.

In the 1760’s, while Schuyler Mansion was being constructed, Philip’s superior from the British Quartermasters during the French and Indian War, John Bradstreet, sent him to England to tie up some loose ends. Philip took the opportunity to purchase a number of fashionable items while abroad to decorate his new Georgian home. These items included flocked wallpapers, Brussels carpets, and worsted fabric.

Today, the yellow parlor is decorated much more comprehensively than the parlor on the other side of the hall. This is largely due to the fact that we are still in possession of Schuyler’s receipts from when he was in England. These receipts give some indication of the types of items he purchased,
The flocked wallpaper adorning the yellow parlor
particularly the colors. Based on Philip’s receipts and the fashions that were used in decorating rooms in the mid to late eighteenth century, a monochromatic scheme was utilized during the most recent restoration of the parlor. Thus, the reproduction fabric, carpet, and wallpaper all contain shades of yellow.

The wallpaper currently adorning the yellow parlor is a reproduction of yellow flocked wallpaper. Flocked wallpaper was popularized in the eighteenth century by England and France, but may have been developed Italy as early as the fifteenth century. Prior to the Seven Years War (1754-1763) blue flocked paper from England was considered to be most fashionable. However, in order to meet demand for the paper in their country, France began producing flocked wallpaper as well. Additionally, these wallpapers regained their popularity throughout the 1970’s.

Flocked wallpaper gets its name from the fact that powdered textiles, such as wool, in the case of the wallpaper at Schuyler Mansion, were glued onto the paper in a printed design. Most wallpaper was imported and expensive during this time period. Thus, by displaying flocked wallpaper in his home, Philip Schuyler was able to express to his visitors that he not only had excellent taste in home d├ęcor, but also the money to afford it.

The yellow parlor is not the only room in Schuyler Mansion exhibit flocked wallpaper. Currently, there is red flocked wallpaper in the dining room, green in Philip’s library and Philip and Catherine’s bedchamber, and blue in the boy’s bedchamber. The reproductions that now adorn the mansion were installed within the first decade of this century.

Come to Schuyler Mansion and see these beautiful flocking patterns for yourself! Also, be sure to follow this blog, as next week we will be discussing more of the reproduction pieces that enhance the experience of visiting the yellow parlor!

1 comment:

  1. A highlight of central New York and American history...