The early history of the venetian blind is conjectural. The early Venetians, who were great traders, are thought to have brought the idea of the blind from Persia to Venice. The Venetian slaves, once freed, are then thought to have brought the blind to France for personal comfort and as a means of livelihood. The French name for Venetian blinds is “Les Persienes.” In 1761 St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia was fitted with venetian blinds. The first pioneer of the venetian blind in the US was John Webster of London who advertised his wares in 1767. Venetian blinds then appeared in the 1787 painting by J. L. Gerome Ferris, entitled “The Visit of Paul Jones to the Constitutional Convention.” Other illustrations show venetian blinds at Independence Hall in Philadelphia at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The first large modern building in the US to adopt venetian blinds was Rockefeller Center’s RCA Building (better known as the Radio City building) in New York City at the turn of the 20-th century.
The venetian blind is thought to have grown in popularity for its technical improvements over cloth shading systems. The following three advantages were often sited: 1) greater durability, 2) easier operation, and 3) more economical.
In the 1940s advocates of the venetian blind claimed that its technical supremacy came without losing charm, the rich possibilities of decorative and romantic treatments, and impressions of stately splendor. However, the venetian blind proved to be more popular in commercial and institutional markets, where technical supremacy overshadows charm.