By Janet Dodrill
For design and wallpaper lovers, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian’s Design Museum, has an entire section of wall covering samples from the Schmitz-Horning Company of Cleveland, Ohio. As a gift of the Wallpaper Council, Inc., the collection has dozens of patterns and color variations, printed as chromo-lithographs, mostly believed to be from the 1930s and 1940s.
The company was known for upscale lithographic wallpaper, friezes, art murals, and scenic panoramics, printed with oil-based inks onto high-quality paper, and was in business between 1905 and 1960. They used some of the largest zinc printing plates in the country, with an image area of roughly 80″ x 40″. The paper was fully washable.
The design museum owns one full set, a four-part scenic mural called ‘Scenic Hudson,’ a lovely pattern that they describe, “captures a romantic view of the Hudson River.” What’s also great is that Cooper Hewitt includes a detailed description of the work with accompanying audio. This set was the gift of Scott Cazet.
Additionally, Schmitz-Horning offered a selection of large-scale wall maps. The Cooper Hewitt museum has two adjoining sections of a beautifully illustrated map, ‘Smuggler’s Cove,’ designed by established Cleveland area artist Glenn M. Shaw, who contracted on several designs with the company. Again, the museum offers details and audio on the pattern.
Although the museum is still in the process of digitizing the samples to post on their website, I have created a category on my Pinterest page of Schmitz-Horning work currently on their site. I have a special interest in the history, since my great-grandfather, Hugo M. Schmitz, co-founded and served as president of the company, until his death, when it was then operated by my grandfather, Warren R. Schmitz. I am thrilled that these samples were preserved and thanks to the digital age they are now being shared.
Cooper Hewitt has undertaken a huge (ongoing) effort to make the Schmitz-Horning Co. samples available as resources for the general public, researchers, and enthusiasts.
Cooper Hewitt / The Schmitz-Horning Co.
Cooper Hewitt / Schmitz Horning / Objects Of The Day
(Pictured) Chinese Embroidery Scenic-Panel by Schmitz-Horning Co., 1930-1940, Cooper Hewitt, Gift of Wallpaper Council, Inc.
Images from Cooperhewitt.org used under the Fair Use copyright act.