Zuber in Otis

Vues d’Italie wallpaper installed at James Siena and Katia Santibañez’s house in Otis, MA. Image courtesy of Armin Kunz.

James Siena

In 2004 we rented a house in the Berkshires for part of the summer and picked up a book of real estate listings for fantasy’s sake. We bought the second house we saw and the reason was simple: the wallpaper. The listing read something like: “historic brick farmhouse with hand-painted wallpaper.” We had to see it.

The paper was not, in fact, painted, we realized when we came to inspect the dining room, but printed, and it was like nothing we had seen before: a magnificent panorama, depicting scenes of what appeared to be the ruins of ancient Rome, but from a time when the preservation of the past was not thought of as it is now. These ruins were crawling with bushes and trees and people dining al fresco, getting their palms read by a gypsy, watching a puppet show; some in Ottoman dress. Little did we know that the paper would turn out to have been made in France by Zuber & Cie nearly 200 years ago. It was remarkably intact for its age.

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