Cooper Hewitt Museum at Smithsonian Offers Large Sample Collection of Schmitz-Horning Wallcoverings

September 22, 2015

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.

Scenic Hudson, Scenic-Panels by Schmitz-Horning Co., 1930-1940, Cooper Hewitt, Gift of Scott Cazet

Scenic Hudson, Scenic-Panels by Schmitz-Horning Co., 1930-1940, Cooper Hewitt, Gift of Scott Cazet

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.

Smuggler's Cove by Schmitz-Horning Co., 1930-1940, Cooper Hewitt, Gift of Wallpaper Council, Inc.

Smuggler’s Cove by Schmitz-Horning Co., 1930-1940, Cooper Hewitt, Gift of Wallpaper Council, Inc.

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.

Resource Links:

Cooper Hewitt / The Schmitz-Horning Co.
https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/people/18046573/

Cooper Hewitt / Schmitz Horning / Objects Of The Day
http://www.cooperhewitt.org/tag/schmitz-horning/

(Pictured) Chinese Embroidery Scenic-Panel by Schmitz-Horning Co., 1930-1940, Cooper Hewitt, Gift of Wallpaper Council, Inc.
https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18431485/

Chinese Embroidery Scenic-Panel by Schmitz-Horning Co., 1930-1940, Cooper Hewitt, Gift of Wallpaper Council, Inc.

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.

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Schmitz-Horning Co. Ming Floral Scenic Wallpaper Pattern

January 11, 2014

By Janet Dodrill

Schmitz-Horning Co. Ming Floral Scenic Wallpaper Artist's Rendering.

Schmitz-Horning Co. “Ming Floral” Scenic Wallpaper (Artist’s Rendering).

Recently, I was contacted by someone online who asked if I knew anything about the Schmitz-Horning Company’s “Ming Floral” wallpaper pattern. They stated that their grandfather was a painter/wallpaperer in the 1930s through ’60s, and that he had saved three panels of the wallpaper.

I know the pattern, a lovely one — we had it in a bedroom at our family home where I grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. The house originally belonged to my grandfather, Warren R. Schmitz, who ran the company after my great-grandfather’s (Hugo M. Schmitz) death in 1938.

Schmitz-Horning Co. "Ming Floral" Scenic Wallpaper Panels.

Schmitz-Horning Co. “Ming Floral” Scenic Wallpaper Panels.

The Cleveland-based company employed and contracted with many Cleveland area artists, and I believe that artists/illustrators were used from England and that the paper was distributed there as well. The papers were printed using presses capable of oversized printing, the only of their kind in the country at the time. High quality oil-based inks were used on sturdy paper, that enabled the papers to be washed and to retain colors. The company did art murals/wall scenes or friezes that were tastefully designed but affordable, and later scenics and continuous panoramics that surrounded a room were available for homes and public buildings.

A patent was filed in 1906 for the printed frieze for walls by Hugo M. Schmitz, his business partner William Horning, and his top salesman, Warren R. Cox. An article he wrote was published in an architectural decorating magazine at the turn of the century about the friezes. He was an artist himself and designed some of the paper.

On the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum web site, scenic panel, “Ming Floral,” is a 1939 chromolithograph, but they are in the process of digitizing images of S-H wallpaper (gifts of the Wallpaper Council, Inc.).

According to a 1950 S-H Scenic Paper price list, Ming Floral was available in white, pale yellow, gray, and turquoise. A full set of four panels was $30.00, and price per section was $8.50. In another, perhaps earlier catalog, it was priced $7.50. Each panel was 40″ x 80″ in size. The panels contained imagery of plants, flowers, birds, bamboo trees, and turf. It was from an original hand-painted Chinese design.

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