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Royal Holloway College – Picture Gallery

Research Brief & History

Architectural Paint Research was commissioned to establish the decorative history of the Picture Galley and to determine the original colour of the wallpaper.

The Picture Gallery of Royal Holloway College opened in 1886. A photograph taken in 1886 shows the fitting out of the room.  At this date the long side walls were fitted with pilasters. The lower walls were painted in a coloured paint. the wall colour was lighter and there were columns running down all sides of the space.

The existing wallpaper was not installed until 1907 when the gallery was refurbished to make it more useable. At this date the original pilasters were removed allow more flexibility in the hanging of the paintings. At this date the skirting was replaced.

The wallpaper is currently has been painted in an ox blood brown for as long as anyone can remember


The wallpaper applied in 1907 is an embossed paper generally known as Lincrusta. Lincrustsa  was invented in 1877 by Frederick Watson Frederick Walton.[2] It became an instant success because it was the first washable wallcovering and appealed to the Victorians because of its sanitary properties as well as its durability and ornate effects. Originally made on a linen backing it was, however, quite rigid. Because of this, an employee called Thomas John Palmer invented a similar product which, being made from wood pulp and cotton, was lighter and more flexible. This was to become Anaglypta.