Window screens as we know them were first manufactured in the United States around 1870. They were made of steel and were prone to rust. Manufactures at that time would paint the screens to prevent the rust from forming. They also employed artists to paint scenes on the screens. This art form was popular during the Victorian Era, as was painting on window blinds and wall murals.
Forty years later, around 1913, an East Baltimore merchant painted the window screens on his shop and the trend soon became popular in various neighborhoods in the Baltimore area.
Tom (Razzo) Matarazzo recalls watching screen artists in the Highlandtown area in the 1950 -1960's. They would carry brushes and paints and would paint screens that were still attached to the doors or windows of their customers homes The scenes were often chosen from calendars supplied by the customers. Popular themes included religious depictions and nature scenes from their calendars.
Stop by Razzo to see a genuine antique steel screen on display.