Like a tile-setter, I began at the center point of the antique print wall to figure how to hang them.
For more than two years I scoured auctions for a set of botanical prints for a print picture wall, hoping to get some at a reasonable price. Nineteenth century prints like these originally came in subscription books and were hand-colored by artists. I kept watching and eventually won these at auction — a group of six Belgian fruit lithographs by Alexandre Joseph Desire Bivort (1809-1872) which, despite their age and provenance, each cost the same as a Pottery Barn frame.
Once I got them home, I realized that they could be put to use in our dining room, which has a wall where I am also planning a marble-topped cabinet. It’s an important space that takes up about one-third of the major sightline from our front door. It’s the first thing anyone sees. I still plan a chest there but I haven’t yet found the right one.
The scale of the wall is perfect for the three pairs of 16 x 19-inch lithographs. Allowing for a 36-inch tall chest, the hanging area measures 73-1/2” wide by 58-1/2” high. The chest height is marked off with the first tape above the white chair-rail molding. After some addition and subtraction plus a little more marking up with frog tape (which won’t damage cured paint), I calculated the 3 pairs would fill out the wall with 6-inches on each side and in between. Placing hooks at 12-1/2” and 35-1/2” below the picture molding gave me 8-inches above and below the set with 4 inches in between, give or take ½-inch. Like a tile-setter I began at the center point — 36-3/4” and established a plumb line by taping up a length of twine with a lightweight metal bracket tied to the bottom.
Then I marked off the hook heights for the center pair on that line. To locate the left and right pairs, I added half the width of each litho plus the space in between, or 22” (8” + 6” + 8”), putting up the plumb line on each side and measuring from side-to-side across it to place the hooks.
Here’s the result. Project complete! But please don’t ask me about the blank 10-foot long wall to the right of the doorway — or at least not yet.
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