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Verre eglomise - Reverse Glass Painting

Updated on February 2, 2017
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Katherine is a well known art blogger who has been writing extensively on art on 'Making A Mark' for the last 10 years.

Reverse Glass Painting - Resources for Artists

Find out about Reverse Glass Painting (also known as Verre eglomise or 'hinterglasmalerei') - where the painting is painted on one side and then viewed from the other side.

This site aims to provide a resource for those who want to find out more about this very traditional form of European painting which dates back to the Middle Ages. It's also become a traditional art in America as well.

On this site you will find links to artists, books, videos and instruction on techniques for reverse glass painting which explain the very old practice of reverse glass painting - and how to do it

View in the woods (1660-1680) by Jan van der Heyden Medium Verre glomis Dimensions 34 x 42.5 cm (13.4 x 16.7 in)
View in the woods (1660-1680) by Jan van der Heyden Medium Verre glomis Dimensions 34 x 42.5 cm (13.4 x 16.7 in) | Source

The Tradition of Verre glomis or reverse glass painting

also known as hinterglas painting

Reverse glass painting is a method of painting where the artists paints the picture on glass - on the reverse side (ie the other side from that through which the glass will be viewed).

Reverse glass painting has a long history in European Painting where it has been known since the 14th century as a traditional painting technique. European names for it are Verre glomis (French) or Hinterglas painting (German).

The earliest known examples of reverse glass painting come from from the time of Constantine - in the 3rd century AD.

After that it emerged again out of the Middle Ages in 13th and 14th century Europe. At that time its primary use was to decorate furniture see some examples of how reverse glass painting has decorated furniture in the "Eaxmples" module below. Small panels of glass with designs formed by engraved gilding were applied to . The methods used are described by Cennino Cennini in Chappter XI of his book "The Craftsman's Handbook"

" Verre glomis " as a technical term name derives from a chap called Jean-Baptise Glomy (1711–1786) who was an 18th century French decorator and art-dealer. This is the man who is responsible for initiating it becoming popular again in the 18th and 19th centuries

Countries known to have well developed traditions include Germany, Austria, Romania, Yugoslavia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Reverse glass painting was a very popular folk art in the 19th century in Austria, Bavaria, Moravia, Bohemia and Slovakia. These cultures took reverse glass painting to North America when people emigrated there - and it started to develop a tradition about reverse glass painting in American art History

Mass production involved lots of home workers. Glass painting was winter employment for many farming families. Elsewhere small business thrived on a demand for reverse glass painting.

At the end of the nineteenth century the invention of photography and colour lithography suppressed demand

While a lot of the painting is focused on religious subjects - it was widely used for painting religious subjects in the Middle Ages - it has also been used to create signs and to paint more traditional subjects such as flowers, still life and landscapes.

Painting on glass began to become more popular again in the 1990s and artists using it today are finding new subjects and new styles within their approach to reverse painting on glass

The Craftsman's Handbook - by Cennino d'Andrea Cennini

This book is regarded as a "standard" in "how to" manuals for artists.

Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars by 16 customer reviews

It was written by a fifteenth century artist. It's a "how to" manual for artists working at the same time and ranges widely across various practical matters related to art eg from how to draw, to how paint frescos and how to make paint

In Chapter XI it considers how to gild glass for reliquary ornaments and how to draw on glass, how to scrape off gold and how to back up drawings with colours. In effect it's the first manual on how to do reverse glass painting

The Craftsman's Handbook: "Il Libro dell' Arte"
The Craftsman's Handbook: "Il Libro dell' Arte"

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Dover Publications (June 1, 1954)

This book is centuries old and is now never out of print - but there's never any need to revise the text as its author died some centuries ago!

 
Oberammergau Museum Hinterglasmalerei Beispiele By Photo: Andreas Praefcke (Own work (own photograph)) [CC-BY-3.0]
Oberammergau Museum Hinterglasmalerei Beispiele By Photo: Andreas Praefcke (Own work (own photograph)) [CC-BY-3.0] | Source

About Reverse Glass Painting - also known as Verre Glomis or Hinterglasmalerei

The history of reverse glass painting varies depending on which European perspective is being used to explain it.

Reverse glass painting is the term which is becoming more frequent in order to make the art more accessible to others

Hinterglasmalerei focuses very much on the traditions of icons and folk art associated with countries in Middle Europe or the Austro Hungarian empire

Anonymous reverse painting on glass of a Persian king, western India, late 19th century
Anonymous reverse painting on glass of a Persian king, western India, late 19th century | Source

Historical Examples of Reverse Glass Painting

The folk art examples of reverse glass painting might suggest that this art is unsophisticated. However historical and modern examples of the application of reverse painting on glass suggest that the reverse is true.

In the hand of people who can paint extremely well, this is a very sophisticated form of painting.

Check out the examples below

BOOK: Reverse Paintings on Glass - by Wolfgagng Steiner

This book focuses on 300 years of reverse painting on glass produced within the tradition of Hinterglas painting

Reverse Paintings on Glass
Reverse Paintings on Glass

Hardcover: 272 pages

Publisher: Hirmer Verlag (September 1, 2006)

 

BOOK: Reverse Paintings on Glass - The Ryser Collection - Rudy Eswarin (Editor)

This catalogue was published to accompany an exhibition of the unequalled Ryser collection - of reverse painting on glass - at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York

The book charts the history of this neglected art from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Almost 100 colour illustrations demonstrate the vitality and charm of these miniature portraits, landscapes and genre paintings.

Reverse Paintings on Glass - The Ryser Collection
Reverse Paintings on Glass - The Ryser Collection

Paperback: 168 pages

Publisher: Corning Museum of Glass (June 1992)

 
George Huszar, Romanian painter, working on his own stylized manner of a Traditional Reverse Painting on Glass. By copyright & owned by en:George Huszar (April 27, 2005) GDeCourcy at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-2.5]
George Huszar, Romanian painter, working on his own stylized manner of a Traditional Reverse Painting on Glass. By copyright & owned by en:George Huszar (April 27, 2005) GDeCourcy at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-2.5] | Source

Practical Tips for Reverse Glass Painting - Including step by step instruction in Verre Eglomise

This section aims to develop a compendium of useful sites which provide information online about reverse glass painting.

The process of reverse painting on glass has quite a few steps. The main principle is that the foreground is painted first and the background last.

VIDEO: Verre glomis by Yanny Petters (high quality) - a video on YouTube

This video comes in two parts.

  • The first part covers a step by step process of producing Verre Eglomise
  • The second part looks at the history and shows a number of examples of Verre Eglomise

BOOK: Gold Leaf, Paint & Glass - by Frances Federer

For those wanting tp learn more about the basics of the art of reverse glass painting, this publication covers the basics of 'verre eglomise'.

  • It covers the methods, techniques and history of reverse glass gilding and painting.
  • It's written by an artist with 30 years experience
  • It provides clearly illustrated, step-by-step projects - including ones which are suitable for beginners and ones which are suitable for those with more experience

Gold Leaf, Paint & Glass
Gold Leaf, Paint & Glass

Paperback: 128 pages

Publisher: Thomas Publications (September 1, 2012)

 

BOOK: Reverse Glass Painting: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Learning the Craft - by Anne Dimock

The author of this book is now an accredited trecher of reverse glass painting for the Historical Society of Early American Decoration.

Reverse glass painting, as demonstrated in this book, involves creating a traditional primitive picture on a piece of glass in a way that the finished image can be viewed on the opposite side of the glass.

Reverse Glass Painting: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Learning the Craft
Reverse Glass Painting: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Learning the Craft

Paperback: 144 pages

Publisher: Stackpole Books (March 1, 2010)

 

Artists who produce reverse glass paintings - also known as Verre Eglomise or Hinterglas

I'm developing a list of artists who follow this tradition of reverse painting on glass - and who are also online

Comments and Feedback - Has this site helped you?

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    • makingamark profile image
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      Katherine Tyrrell 3 years ago from London

      @anonymous: I've added your website to the list of artists

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      You can add me to your list of artist who create verre eglomise. Cat Kaley McCarroll, San Francisco, CA www.catkaleymccarroll.com many thanks! Cat

    • makingamark profile image
      Author

      Katherine Tyrrell 4 years ago from London

      @Gayle Dowell: Sometimes the most simple art is the most complicated to get right and some of the apparently complex is completed very quickly. It's not fair! ;)

    • makingamark profile image
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      Katherine Tyrrell 4 years ago from London

      @dahlia369: I was equally enamoured when I discovered this technique which has been around for ages but gets little public profile

    • makingamark profile image
      Author

      Katherine Tyrrell 4 years ago from London

      @jnstewart: It's always good to learn something new

    • makingamark profile image
      Author

      Katherine Tyrrell 4 years ago from London

      @JerryWojo: Glad you liked it Jerry

    • JerryWojo profile image

      JerryWojo 4 years ago

      Really enjoyed this lens..thanks!

    • jnstewart profile image

      John Norman Stewart 4 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      Your lens made me want to try it......thanks for sharing. :)

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 4 years ago

      I enjoy learning about art/painting techniques so I enjoyed your lens very much. Thank you!!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 4 years ago

      What an awesome lens! I can't imagine painting in reverse, but I guess practice makes perfect...I have a hard time painting the normal way. Love all the images...thanks for sharing!~d-artist Squid Angel Blessing~

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      I've not seen this before. It looks complicated to do.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @makingamark: thanks have looked into her website - if I do find someone will let you know in the meantime I am enjoying reverse painting loving it Thanks for the article as it is informative to the people who do not know

    • makingamark profile image
      Author

      Katherine Tyrrell 4 years ago from London

      @flycatcherrr: When I found out about reverse glass painting, it reminded me of pieces I saw in my grandparents house which I'd completely forgotten about. It always intrigued me as to how it was done.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 4 years ago

      My grandparents had a few pieces of reverse glass painting; it quite fascinated me when I was a kid and I have always wanted to try it. It is a fun mental exercise to look at a landscape and try to plan out how you'd lay on the paint in reverse order... very challenging to actually do it, I would expect.

    • makingamark profile image
      Author

      Katherine Tyrrell 4 years ago from London

      @anonymous: Yanny lives in Ireland - I don't know whether she ever does courses in the UK - might be worth asking her.

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      How cool! I would love to see reverse glass painting in action. What a beautiful and informative lens.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @makingamark: thanks I need someone in England otherwise will have to go abroad to see how they do the work will keep looking out for someone

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Gorgeous! Now I want to try reverse glass painting!

    • makingamark profile image
      Author

      Katherine Tyrrell 4 years ago from London

      @anonymous: Teresa - there are links to the websites of artists who do reverse glass painting abovePlus links to some good books about reverse glass painting.Let me know how get on.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I do reverse art glass painting and I am finding it difficult to get in touch with anyone that does or even to contact to get some hints. I use acrylic paint as I find it drys very quickly but oil paint is used and would like to know which one??I need more info on the subject which no one seems to know about Help!! Teresa

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