Hand-blocked panoramic wallpapers, such as this Isola Bella design, are incredibly labour intensive to create. Unlike more standard designs motifs are not repeated and so require an exceptionally high number of individual woodblocks, anywhere from several hundred to four thousand could be required depending on the complexity of the design. The blue sky backgrounds are hand-brushed using a method known as irisé, developed by Zuber in 1819, to produce the subtly graduated effect.
Zuber launched its first panoramic wallpaper, Les Vues de Suisse, in 1806 at the Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie and the company produced several more such panoramic scenes from its Rixheim workshops over the following decades. These wallpapers depicted human activity in settings around the world, providing a glimpse of unknown lands, but from 1842 nature itself became more prominent rather than just the setting. Isola Bella issued by Zuber in 1843 is thought to be the first of these new type of scenes produced, it required 550 blocks and 85 colours to be created. For these new natural scenes, artists specialising in botany were employed to bring these paradisal landscapes to life. Isola Bella is traditionally credited to Alsace artists, Eugène Ehrmann (1804-96) and Georges Zipélius (1808-1890). The beautiful scenery depicted in this wallpaper is inspired by the gardens on the real island of Isola Bella, one of the Borromean Islands of Lago Maggiore in north Italy, which can still be visited today.