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A Brief History Of Reverse Painting On Glass

Reverse painting on glass has been a form of artexpression since extremely ancient times. It is difficult to precisely date a number of much more ancientartworks.

Art history has revealed that painting on glass became quite fashionable in Italy during the Renaissance. Italian paintings on glass during the 14th and 15th centuries were associated with Venice and with the Island of Murano. These paintings were primarilyminiatureswhich later began to be utilised as alters and reliquaries in churches. Gradually a more artisanal approach began to develop in which artists copied well-liked landscapes or painted portraits and biblical representations.

By the 17th century painting on glass had spread to Austria and the characteristics of this work now began to be influenced by a more popular form of art which also led to the development of small family industries of painters on glass.

In Europe the reverse painting technique had by this time reached as far north as Poland.In those times glass-making was carried out by methods that gave glass a very characteristic appearance due to the glass being blown and not poured.There existed certainproblems in creating high enough temperatures which allowed for the successful fusion of chemicals that were used, and which consequently permitted identification of paintings on glass from a much earlier era.

The knowledge for painting on glass began to spread through Europe when glass makers were forced tomigrate due to diminishing supplies of quartz sand, or when wood supplies were lacking which prevented them from creating the fires they needed to make glass. With transportation becoming more efficient frontier taxes began to increase and the necessary chemical additives became more expensive.This led to a constant movement and migration of glassmakers all through Europe.

The technique of painting on glass has created its own cultural art history not only in Europe but also in India, China and The Far East, North America, South America, The Middle East and Africa.

Extract from website "A guide to reverse painting on glass" at Selected reverse painting artworks at

Copyright Mayanne Mackay 2005

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