Lithography Spells Style For Schmitz-Horning Co., Wallpaper and Wallcoverings Magazine, 1961

November 28, 2021

By Janet Dodrill

Reproduced from the article, Lithography Spells Style For Schmitz-Horning Co. article, Wallpaper and Wallcoverings magazine, Convention Issue, November, 1961.

wallpaper and wallcoverings magazine november 1961

Wallpaper and Wallcoverings Magazine, Convention Issue, November, 1961.

In 1796, when a playwright named Aloys Senefelder invented a new process for publishing his plays and music, he probably never dreamed his method would be used to reproduce hundreds of different things – among them wallpaper scenics.

The process Senefelder invented is called lithography. It was adapted in 1905 by the Schmitz-Horning Co. Cleveland, Ohio, to make wallpaper murals.

The Cleveland firm is the only firm in the United States producing decorative types of scenic papers by the lithographic process. The technique is also used, however, to make photo murals.

Lithography offers two advantages in the production of scenic papers. First, it is comparatively inexpensive, and secondly, there is plenty of latitude in producing various effects. Until recently, Schmitz-Horning scenics were done in a full rainbow of colors with blurred outlines. The new lines, however, have adopted the crisp, simple styling popularized by the more expensive sold screen printed scenics.

schmitz-horning company direct rotary press and pressman 1961

A Schmitz-Horning Co. lithograph “direct rotary” press here “grounds” on a double coat of an oil based paint. Only one color can be printed at a time.

“When Schmitz-Horning first started making scenics, customers liked many colors and complicated designs,” explained Warren Schmitz, company president. “In fact, it took more than two years’ work to complete the plates for just one scenic.”

Some color ways of this scenic were made in 14 printings, one print at a time. The complicated motif of butterflies, flowers and other greenery gave the effect of elaborated detail found in oil painting. This elaborateness has been abandoned by the firm in its new scenics which are painted “color for color,” according to Mr. Schmitz.

Yet today’s S-H murals are being produced in much the same way as they were in 1905 when Hugo M. Schmitz, Warren Schmitz’s father, and Will Horning, a lithographic artist, Founded the firm. Horning sold out his share of the firm in 1921, and it has been run by the Schmitz family since.

lithographic artist frank mayer at schmitz-horning company 1961

Lithographic artist Frank Mayer traces a color area of a new Schmitz-Horning Co. design on a transparent tissue.

Hugo Schmitz was an artist of some note whose work had been hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since worlds of art had long been reproduced by the lithographic process, Schmitz felt that wallpaper scenics could be made in the same way and much more economically than the hand-painted and wood blocked ones then available. So was introduced the first mechanized method of producing scenic wallpapers.

Within the firm’s first year of business, it established a modest distribution throughout the country, with a plant in downtown Cleveland as headquarters. In 1912 Schmitz-Horning moved to a two-story building at 777 E. 82nd St., where it has remained ever since.

In the plant of 15,000 square feet, the firm produces it lines of Murals of American, Lithographed Mural Wallpaper and Mural Maps. Schmitz-Horning was probably the first firm in the country to come out with a map specifically as a wallpaper scenic and called a “Mural Map.”

schmitz-horning company bookkeeper mrs harry james 1961

Mrs. Harry James, bookkeeper at Schmitz-Horning Co. for 37 years, checks a customer file. The firm puts out only its own lines which have been distributed throughout the U.S. for more than 50 years.

Mr. Schmitz estimated that his lithographed murals sell for about one-third to one-half the price of handprinted ones. The lower prices are due to the fact that lithographed wallpaper, although not made at the mass production rates of machine prints, can still be put out much faster than screen printed scenics requiring many hand operations.

The basis for lithography is a simple one: – under certain controlled conditions, oil and water will not mix. This process utilizes a flat printing of roughened zinc in contrast to a raised or engraved surface.

But before a plate can be made, a number of preliminary steps must be taken at the Schmitz-Horning plant. First, a design is needed. Providing these are free lance artists. Sometimes the artist will suggest his own design, while other times Mr. Schmitz will make a definite assignment.

schmitz-horning company president warren schmitz with sanibel pattern lithographic mural 1961

Warren Schmitz, president of Schmitz-Horning Co., stands beside a panel of “Sanibel”, new Schmitz-Horning lithographic mural featuring crisp, clean styling.

The finished art is usually half the size of the murals, which average 10-13 feet in width. Some scenics, however, exceed 20 feet. One well-known Schmitz-Horning design, “Westchester Hunt,” comes in 10 sections and runs a grand total of 11 1/3 feet.

A Black and white photograph of the finished art is blown up to full mural size. The Schmitz-Horning lithographic artist makes a tracing on tissue over the photograph. The tracing is an art in itself, since the artist is using a black and white photograph as his guide and must study the full color sketch to select colors. Each color must have its own tracing.

The tracings are then “rubbed down” on a zinc plate by putting them through a transfer press. The artist now works on the plate with a liquid crayon. Using the tracings as a guide he works in the color values onto the plate. Although a separate plate is required for each color in the design, both the dark and light values of a color can be carried on a single plate.

The plate is next put through a solution of gum arabic to delineate between the print and non-print areas. Parts of the surface protected by crayon are not affected by the chemical bath. But the unprotected surfaces react to the solution and take on an oxide coating. The plate now has the ability to attract and retain water on its surface.

The crayon is removed after the gum arabic bath, and the plate is ready for use. Its printing areas – those originally covered with crayon – pick up and transfer oil inks. The non-printing areas, those carrying a coating of oxide, will pick up and retain water.

Schmitz-Horning has three lithograph “direct rotary” presses plus a smaller press for scenic miniatures. The presses are sheet fed. The plate is attached to a large cylinder and prints directly on the sheets of paper which are carried around a second cylinder. Just one color is printed at a time and paper sheets are fed into the presses by hand.

Wallpaper scenics are but one of the many decorative and useful items reproduced by the lithographic process. May famous artists of past and present have produced lithographic prints which occupy a high rank in the graphic arts. Lithography is also the basis of the offset process used to print blotters, booklets, calendars, programs, greeting cards, children’s books, stationery, sheet music, maps and even cigar bands.

The oil-based paints used in the lithographic process have made Schmitz-Horning scenics automatically washable. “We’ve improved the process throughout the years, but even our earliest efforts could be washed,” said Mr. Schmitz. “A Woman wanted to know how to clean one of our old scenics in her house. I gave her very careful instructions, but the cleaning woman went ahead and washed it with LesToil. It came out beautifully.”

Schmitz-Horning’s new crisp styling is designed to appeal to modern families who want smart decor at a price they can afford, according to Mr. Schmitz. “Lithography still offers the most practical, mechanized method for producing large-scale designs,” he concluded.

Copyright article and images. All rights reserved. Not to be used without permission.

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Schmitz-Horning Company Made Beautiful Landscape Wallpapers

January 28, 2021

By Janet Dodrill

Cleveland, Ohio wallpaper manufacturer, Schmitz-Horning Company (1905-1964), designed and produced beautiful high quality wall murals and panoramics for homes and institutions. Here is a selection of just of few landscape designs from their 1941-1942 catalog, “Scenic and Sectional Wall Paper.”

The company produced large-scale chromolithographs and was maker to Kro-Mura, San-Kro-Mura, and Venwood wallpaper brands.

Copyright article and images. All rights reserved. Not to be used without permission.

Treasure Island, no. 8044 natural coloring on Rachelle, five sections each 40" wide by 80" high, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Treasure Island, no. 8044 natural coloring on rachelle, five sections each 40″ wide by 80″ high, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

The Woodland, no. 367, two sheets each 36" high by 60" wide, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

The Woodland, no. 367, two sheets each 36″ high by 60″ wide, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

The Heron, no. 608, natural on off-white ground, two section each 40 inches wide by 60 inches high, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

The Heron, no. 608, natural on off-white ground, two section each 40 inches wide by 60 inches high, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

The Forest, no. 601, two sections each 40" wide by 60" high, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

The Forest, no. 601, two sections each 40″ wide by 60″ high, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Sierras, no. 363, three sheets each 36" high by 60" wide, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Sierras, no. 363, three sheets each 36″ high by 60″ wide, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Ming Floral, no. 8036, turquoise ground, four sections each 40" by 80", by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Ming Floral, no. 8036, turquoise ground, four sections each 40″ by 80″, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Larkspur, no. 8020, pastel colors on light yellow, three sections each 40" by 80", by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Larkspur, no. 8020, pastel colors on light yellow, three sections each 40″ by 80″, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Elysia, no. 8032, pastel colors on old ivory, five sections each 40" by 80", by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Elysia, no. 8032, pastel colors on old ivory, five sections each 40″ by 80″, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Die Niederlaender, no. 410, two sheets each 40" high by 60" wide, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Die Niederlaender, no. 410, two sheets each 40″ high by 60″ wide, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Chinese Floral, no. 80733, full color on wedgewood, four sections each 40" by 80", by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Chinese Floral, no. 80733, full color on wedgewood, four sections each 40″ by 80″, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Chinese Embroidery, no. 808014, pastel colors on ivory grass cloth ground, two sections each 40" by 80", by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Chinese Embroidery, no. 808014, pastel colors on ivory grass cloth ground, two sections each 40″ by 80″, by Schmitz-Horning Co.

Schmitz-Horning Co. 1941-1942 catalog, Scenic and Sectional Wall Paper.

Schmitz-Horning Co. 1941-1942 catalog, Scenic and Sectional Wall Paper.


Archibald Willard, Friend to Hugo Max Schmitz of Schmitz-Horning Co.

February 27, 2017

By Janet Dodrill

Hugo Max Schmitz I (late 1800s).  (Schmitz family archives)

Hugo Max Schmitz I (late 1800s). (Schmitz family archives)

It is believed that in the 1890s, a promising artist left his family and relatives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and made his way to Cleveland, perhaps attracted to its thriving art community. He was Hugo Max Schmitz (1867-1938), my great grandfather, and in his mid-30s. Hugo, of German descent, joined Cleveland’s Art Club (formerly know as The Bohemians) and attended regular drawing sessions in its location above City Hall, and participated in their exhibits and possibly traveled abroad with other artists.

President of the established Art Club (and also co-founder and trustee) at the time was notable northeast Ohio artist Archibald MacNeal Willard (1836-1918). He was best known for his painting of The Spirit of ’76. He was born in Bedford, Ohio and at the age of 17 moved to Wellington, Ohio. There is a museum in Wellington in his honor.

Photo portrait of Archibald Willard, restored (Schmitz family archives).

Photo portrait of Archibald Willard, restored (Schmitz family archives).

Archibald Willard was a prolific artist who worked in a variety of mediums and subject matters. He was a talented portrait artist as well as landscape artist.

In addition to the Wellington museum, several Cleveland museums carry his work including the Cleveland Museum of Art and Cleveland History Center/Western Reserve Historical Society. A dedicated plot just east of Cleveland City Hall is known as Willard Park.

A search in Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer archived newspaper articles, resulted in stories about Cleveland artists which included Archibald Willard and photos of him working in his studio.

Archibald MacNeal Willard in his studio (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 17, 1899, Several of Cleveland's Well Known Artists Seen At Work In Their Studios).

Archibald MacNeal Willard in his studio (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 17, 1899, Several of Cleveland’s Well Known Artists Seen At Work In Their Studios).

He had a friendship with Hugo, and gave him a portrait photo of himself, plus as a wedding gift in 1902 an original landscape oil painting, which resembles the area’s Chagrin River. In addition my great grandfather received a small statue of The Spirit of ’76 from Mr. Willard, which may be a one of a kind working prototype in porcelain by Stanway.

Hugo Max Schmitz co-founded the Schmitz-Horning Company in 1905, a well-regarded scenic wall paper and mural manufacturing firm, and was president of the company until 1938, when his son Warren Reynolds Schmitz ran it until the company’s closing around 1960.

Landscape oil painting by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

Landscape oil painting by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

Statue of Spirit of '76 by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

Statue of Spirit of ’76 by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

Copyright article and images. All rights reserved. Not to be used without permission.

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