The famous 19th-century designer William Morris once opined: “Whatever you have in your rooms, think first of the walls for they are that which makes your house and home.” With that in mind, consider visiting design store Andrew Martin, which has a license to reproduce any painting in the permanent collection of London’s National Gallery as wallpapers, including Old Masters.
“The National Gallery has one of the most important art collections in the world,” says David Harris, design director at Andrew Martin, “and we feel immensely privileged to be able to use any painting for our bespoke fabrics and wallpapers. Many of our clients favor Old Masters such as Canaletto, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rubens, or Rembrandt—and the Impressionists are also very popular, of course. It rather depends on the property, the lighting, and the rest of the furnishings. We advise clients to picture and work with the whole scene.”
Interestingly, the National Gallery has given the store permission for reproductions to be cropped, for patterns to be repeated, or for colors to be enhanced, though not changed completely. “The gallery checks our work to ensure that we have not compromised or gone too far from the original, but still gives us and our clients enough creative license to create wall coverings that fulfil their requirements,” says Harris. “The images we have in our library are of such high quality that we can easily blow them up by up to 10 times without losing any clarity or resolution. The detail you see at that size is really quite remarkable.”
The process begins with clients choosing the masterpiece they’d like to have reproduced from the National Gallery or its online library, and then submitting the painting number online at Andrew Martin, along with wall dimensions and, if the space is irregular, with a simple diagram. Customers are sent a proof to approve and then the painting is printed digitally on high-quality vinyl, using colorfast inks. The wallpaper rolls are ready for collection or delivery within three to four weeks.
Recent projects have included covering the stairwell of a magnificent residence in India with a Canaletto, and reproducing La Pointe de la Hève, Sainte-Adresse, painted in 1864 by Monet and the 1891 Surprised! by Rousseau for feature walls in other properties. “The results have been extremely impressive,” says Harris. “Funnily enough, the client who commissioned the Canaletto actually owned an original Titian. He had a wonderful art collection. I think our wallpaper was another way of expressing his taste for Old Masters.”
If however, you’d prefer to have an original masterpiece, you may find what you are looking for at Christie’s Old Masters/New Scholars: Works of Art to Benefit Rugby School sale on 4 December 2018. The standalone auction includes 200 or so lots from Rugby School, one of England’s most elite educational institutions, and features Old Masters, watercolors, British drawings, sculpture, Chinese ceramics, books, manuscripts antiquities, and paintings from the 19th century.
At the fore of the many highlights is A Young Man Standing, a rare black chalk drawing by the Dutch painter and printmaker Lucas van Leyden (1494–1533), which is likely to fetch a figure in the region of £1.5 million ($1.94m), and a recently rediscovered study for the 1872 Perseus and Andromeda by Sir Edward Poynter (1836–1919), estimated at £120,000–£180,000 ($155,534–$233,311). “The sale is a unique opportunity for new and existing collectors, institutions, and Rugbeians to participate,” says Christie’s Head of Sale Jane Blood. “The rediscovery of Sir Edward Poynter’s sublime and previously ‘lost’ masterpiece—as well as the last van Leyden drawing outside a museum—will generate excitement among collectors.”