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Historical inference of Reverse Glass Painting

Every genuine art lover will be interested to ponder the advanced techniques of glass painting. To start with we think it will be apt to discuss “reverse glass painting”.

Reverse glass painting in simple terms can be described as the art of painting an image on the reverse side of the glass so that the image can be viewed from the unpainted side. In other words, what we actually do is to paint the object in the reverse order. This means in reverse glass painting; we first portray the finishing details and then go for image tracing. For example in reverse glass painting if we are planning to paint a human eye, first we have to paint the pupil, then the eye, also in the reverse order concluding with the background. Thus when the painting is once finished, you can view the actual image from the unpainted glass side which will definitely makes your creation a marvelous art form. Thus reverse glass painting can be considered as a realistic and a complicated art form. Hence this style of painting is usually used to portray abstract art, religious art, cloak faces, realistic landscapes and portraits. Reverse glass painting are usually used as wall paintings with lights reflecting on them, rather than light going through them. This can be considered as a great difference between stained glass painting and reverse painting.

The history of reverse glass painting can be traced back from 16th century. During this period these types of reverse glass painting were done in Europe later China followed the footsteps in the early 18th century. Even though reverse glass paintings were done in Europe in early 16th century, the art historians firmly believe that this art form originated from Austria and Romania in Central Europe. After that it flourished to northern Spain, central and southern Italy in Southern Europe. In earlier days this art form was flourished only as a small scale industry run by villagers and so only a few paintings were created and exhibited in the shops of larger cities. Moreover, in early days reverse glass painting was mainly used to portray religious subjects only. Further, this art form flourished to Middle East and West Africa in the early 19th century. This is evident from the painting which depicts scenes from the Old Testament and also from the quotations of Quran.

When we go through the Chinese documents written by the Christian machineries, we will be forced to believe that the Christian machineries are responsible for introducing reverse glass painting to China. But art historians believe it otherwise. According to them, Christian machineries are not responsible to this but as the reverse glass painting was already popular in China they were forced to mention it along with the other art forms of China. So the credit of flourishing this rare art form to China cannot be given to Christian missionaries. So from where China learned this art is still a mystery. Moreover, it is clear from the Chinese literature that even though this art form was popular in China, they neither gave any significance to this rare art nor tried to develop it. Chinese used this art only for business purpose and not for their personal purpose.

The recession of glass painting started with the advent of photography and printing in the middle of 19th century. But now again reverse glass painting has started growing rapidly all over the world.

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