Grisaille-Art-Wallpaper-Murals-Screens…{part I}



What is GRISAILLE? The Merriam Webster Dictionary definition is:

:  decoration in tones of a single color and especially gray designed to produce a three-dimensional effect

An example of classical Grisaille wallpaper from Zuber



French, from gris gray, from Middle French –  First Known Use: 1848

Rhymes with GRISAILLE

This is the second,  (and third and fourth) installment in a series on wallpaper. A few days ago, we looked at many images of Chinoiserie wallpapers. In this series, we are going to look at grisaille and while many examples will be on wallpaper, some of them will be either painted onto a wall or a piece of art hanging on the wall. (and other medium)
Grisaille  originated in fine art some centuries ago to create the illusion of sculpture on a flat surface and it is often seen in trompe l’oeil.
Andrea del Sarto grisaille    frescoes in the Chiostro dello Scalzo, Florence (1511-26)


Grisaille encompasses every shade of gray, but often has tints of sepia, taupe, brown, blue and other colors. The clue is that it’s monochromatic and very muted. There is also grisaille which has a gray background, but then the artist has incorporated color in the fore-ground images. As for subject matter, there are two major classifications which are European or Oriental. Oriental could be Chinoiserie, but more commonly, it is Moroccan, Middle Eastern or Indian. In those motifs you will often find things like palm trees, elephants and camels and desert or tropical scenes and the like. In European grisaille, there are usually lots of leaves, forests, glens and classical architectural forms, hunters, dogs, horses, etc.

alright… enough of the lecture. ;]


In my portfolio, most of the images show colorful rooms and I love color, but I also love black and white and every shade of gray. And I adore grisaille! If you ever want to add instant class, glamor and richness to your room… add a grisaille mural or a piece of grisaille art. Although, if you order your panel(s) (through your designer) at places like Zuber and De Gournay, be prepared for a little (understatement) sticker shock. (although, there are places that do the same thing for less… but I can’t vouch for their reliability).
BTW… there is a way to hang your expensive wallpaper so that you can take it off the wall and rehang it in your next house.
This isn’t Grisaille but a post I found a while back where Melissa from the Well-Appointed House discusses how she had her Gracie paper rehung in her new home. (the trick, or part of it is to have the paper-backed with muslin) Love the latter application of the wallpaper inside the wall panels!


But back to the subject at hand…


I love grisaille so much that I have some 70-80 (I lost count) images to share with you. Ya know…back in the day… when the teacher gave a choice of one of three extra credit projects, I would do all three— just in case. lol. All I know is that I love grisaille and there is SOOOOO much out there. Please note, that I am not going to share EVERY image I found (just the best ones, IMO) In the interest of my sanity and not presuming that anyone has the patience to scroll down through 80 images… I’m going to divide this up. Now, I was going to divide it up in antique and not antique and grisaille that incorporates color… but naaaaahhh… I’m just going to put together three different posts. In some cases, I’m not sure if the paper is old or new or even painted directly on the wall or on paper and then hung. So it was difficult to come up with three distinct categories.


And these are not in a particular order. I love them all! But let’s start with something antique.
Above and below an antique Zuber screen from First Dibs. (I do not know if it’s still available or not)
A pair of antique grisaille screens
Dennison and Dampier Interior Design
Martha Stewart’s former home in CT, Turkey Hill
A Zuber panel (source unknown)
 A 19th century Zuber panel
tara shaw 2
Tara Shaw is known for her Swedish inspired furnishings and also sells grisaille art, both old and new (at Horchow above)  and some of her furnishings are also grisaille inspired. (more about that later on)
Love the De Gournay grisaille paper in this charming powder room by Frank Ponterio
 A 19th century grisaille watercolor at Sulis Fine Art
Hôtel du Lac - Vevey
 (c) Bristol Museum and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Chinoiserie Grisaille from the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
Above and below, two images of the same giga-gorgeous room by Suzanne Rheinstein
Above and below exquisite dining room by Rebecca Brandon
Love the additional foreground color!
Grisaille in a bathroom – why not? by Miles Redd
kurt wenner frieze
Trompe L’oeil Grisalle ceiling by fine artist, architect, and latter-day Michelangelo, Kurt Wenner
A subtle tint of color in this elegant, French room with a grisaille mural. (or it might be a tapestry. can’t tell for sure)


For more grisaille wallpaper and murals click here
And for Chinoiserie wallpaper lovers please click here.




5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Cynthia Lambert - March 2, 2017 - 8:51 AM

    I’m a bit late to the party here, but this post popped up when I was reading today’s thoughts on wallpaper. I have always loved grisaille and have vintage grisaille toile paper I got at an estate sale to go in my foyer. Lest you go through life mispronouncing grisaille, and thus losing credibility with some clients, please note that it is pronounced GREEZeye by the French. The “Ls” are completely silent, which actually makes it easier to pronounce for English speakers. These are really wonderful images, Laurel. Nice to revisit this post.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 2, 2017 - 9:06 AM

      Hi Cynthia,
      When I wrote this post, there was pretty much a party of one and occasionally a guest or two. lol I just checked the comments. hahahaha. Those weird things are pingbacks when either I or someone else links back. I try to delete them but apparently didn’t here.

      Lucky for me, being a ballerina, j’etudier Francais au lycee secondaire! I hope I got that right. lol But yes, Americans as a whole aren’t so great with foreign languages.ReplyCancel

      • Cynthia Lambert - March 2, 2017 - 10:55 AM

        Laurel, I like you more and more! I studied ballet also and lived in Paris (Neuilly-sur-Seine, actually) also. Vraiment, nous sommes le plus belle et intelligente femmes du monde! 🙂

        It would be a shame to take this post down, as it is a wonderful post. I love it.

        I live in Hudson, so you know you have an open invitation to visit if you are upstate. I’d love to show you the town – a lot of designers are my friends, and have fabulous houses here. I won’t mention names, but their houses are in AD. Come see me!ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - March 2, 2017 - 11:22 AM

          PS: and you lived en Paris? So jealous. I’ve never even been there. It’s true.

          Oh WAIT; it’s not true. I was on a plane at the airport on a layover on my way to Cairo at the end of 1979. I had a six-month gig (or rather stint is the word) there. ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - March 2, 2017 - 11:19 AM

          Okay, when? I’d love to!!!ReplyCancel

  • Lena Fransioli - December 1, 2015 - 11:15 AM

    Loved your post on Grisaille, great reference.ReplyCancel

  • Dianne Percy Warner - February 25, 2014 - 12:30 PM

    Wow! I’ve tried to persuade my clients to do this so many times but have failed. This is the sin qua non.

    Thank you for this post. I’ve saved all the murals!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Hawks - February 24, 2014 - 8:13 PM

    Great post!ReplyCancel