A Short Note on Glass Painting

Glass paintings is considered to be one of the most democratic art forms closing the gap between fine art and folk. Although prominent artists like Gainsborough and Klee perfected the art into stained glass windows, several amateur artists joined the bandwagon.

Glass painting, also called “reverse glass painting”, closely describes how it’s created. In the case of reverse glass painting, the artist work on the back of the glass which is quite the reverse of what a painter would usually do on canvas. He must work on the reverse to create the work. The details and facial expressions are painted on first and then the background scenes are applied later on the canvas.

There are lot of differences between Reverse glass painting and stained glass, though it was employed to create stained glass windows in the 19th century. Reverse glass painting technique makes use of clear glass as a canvas to which the artist adds the paint. Firing helps the paints stick firmly to the glass. For painted glass work gold glit is often used. This practise is called “verre eglomise”, named after artist Jean-Baptiste Glomy who made the technique popular.

Glass paintings has become commonplace in several parts of the world. From Europe it spread to the US during the 18th century. The technique surfaced in India in the state of Gujarat about the same time. Glass paintings gained popularity in Senegal after Muslims coming back from pilgrimages to Mecca started to spread the technique back home.

The origins of reverse glass paintings are not clear. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has it that the origin of stained paintings goes as far back as ancient Rome. But Mayanne MacKay,a popular glass artist claims that reverse glass paintings were found only during the Renaissance, where it became mainstream in Italy.

There weren’t enough supplies required for glass paintings; therefore artists had to move to other part of Europe. The practise of glass paintings spread far and wide across the continent. In the US, several works were found from the earlier days of the Federal period.

The practise of glass paintings continue to make inroads into modern art tradition. An artist Wassily Kandinsky made use of glass as a medium for all his works. Paul Klee employed an intriguing technique in his famed “Inventionen”, where he first painted a glass pane of white, etched in a drawing followed by painting the back black to accentuate the artwork.