• FA-123648 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
1800 - 1849
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Sample board with pressed and printed papers, 1828


Bright vibrant colours and stark patterns are not what you immediately associate with the more restrained style of the Biedermeier period. Papers and wallpapers by Spörlin & Rahn highlight the fondness for the experimental of many manufacturers of furnishings for the comfort of the home.

Wallpapers were already widely used in Paris as early as the 18th century. Vienna followed suit, but only much later, and hesitatingly. The firm of Spörlin & Rahn emerged as a leading manufacturer. The Technisches Museum Wien has in its possession more than 2,000 wallpaper samples and a series of paper samples from the period dating from 1820 to 1847. And by a rare stroke of good fortune they are dated precisely, and yet to this day the techniques used in their manufacture and the motifs are barely known.

Michael Spörlin (1784-1857) came from a respected Protestant family in what was then the Swiss town of Mülhausen (present-day Mulhouse, France). The town itself was an early centre of textile printing. In 1808 Spörlin moved to Vienna with his brother-in-law Heinrich Rahn and established a company in Gumpendorf. The partners were granted several concessions (patents) on their innovations, including so-called rainbow printing, which allowed new colour effects. The print motifs were applied by hand, which required a meticulous attention to detail. The factory, which by this time had also begun to export, gradually gained a sound reputation. Rahn died in 1836, after which Heinrich Zimmermann became the majority shareholder.

Spörlin was a migrant entrepreneur who combined a high level of expertise with particular dedication. He took part in the major trade exhibitions in Vienna of 1835, 1839 and 1845. According to the 1845 exhibition catalogue his factory employed 120 people at the time, producing 50,000 rolls a year and processing 22.4 tonnes of paper into wallpaper and other products. In 1839 Spörlin was also involved in establishing a ‘Lower Austrian trade association’ (the present-day Austrian Trade Association) in Vienna and became one of its most active members.


Manufacturer: Spörlin & Rahn, Vienna

Date of origin: 1828

Inv.Nr. 59225
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