Painter and Decorator

This exhibition presents the painter and decorator of private homes, his work and his clients between 1865 and 1999

  • Malerverksted
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    The Painter's Workshop Haakon Michael Harris / Norsk Folkemuseum

TThe painting and decorating trade has undergone a great change over the past 150 years. The painter’s working day, his tools and tasks have changed significantly. While ”everybody” hired a painter to paint and decorate their home in 1865 or in 1920, very few in Norway do the same thing today.

Ready-made paint did not exist in 1865. The painters would grind the pigment colours themselves, they would make their own binders such as oils and glue. In 1999 the choice of affordable paint in every colour imaginable was infinite. There are several reasons for this: industrial development produced increasingly better paint and tools from the 1950s onwards, giving people the opportunity to do the painting and decorating themselves.

Secondly, extensive building of cooperative tenements in the 1920s and 1930s, shifted the responsibility from large landlords to individual flatowners that often would hire a painter without formal qualifications.

Thirdly, interior fashion changed. At the end of the 19th century, abundantly decorated floors and ceilings were the height of fashionwhereas a much simpler style with wall papered walls, linoleum floors and white neutral ceilings became the preference 70 years later.