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Verre Eglomisé

A short film which demonstrates Yanny's command and knowledge of Verre Églomisé.


Verre Eglomisé - Hinterglasmalerei - Back painting on clear glass



This is a brief history and explanation of an art form which has existed since Roman times but has all but disappeared since its heyday in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Yanny Petters has been painting on glass using a technique known as back painting or Verre Eglomisé ever since she trained as a signwriter in the early 1980s. Her continued fascination for the technique has led her to explore its origins and to develop her own style and application.



The earliest known examples were made in the 3rd to 5th centuries when the Egyptians and Romans decorated the bases of vessels with religious and secular decorative motifs. The design was protected between two fused pieces of clear glass.


The technique was first named to differentiate it from stained glass in Augsburg, Germany, around 1684. It was prevalent in Bohemia and Bavaria among farmers who produced work on  glass to supplement their farming income. It became a folk art form during the 18th and 19th centuries in Central Europe with religious icons as a popular subject. It was known in the Canton province in China  where non professional artists painted copies of Old Masters and mirrors for export to Northern Europe, especially Britain,  as well as highly detailed work for the home market. Other examples of high quality painting on glass can also be found in India and Indonesia. Painting on glass was also a common technique among signwriters who used it to create fascia signs, decorated windows and mirrors. It is still being done in the present time though nowhere near as much as in Victorian and Edwardian times. The term ‘Verre Eglomisé’ comes from the name of an artist and collector of glass paintings in the 18th century called Jean Baptiste Glomy.


The technique was explored by the Blue Rider group of artists in the 1920s who turned what had been a folk art into fine art. Artists of the calibre of Kandinsky, Marc, Klee and Münter produced glass paintings. Nowadays, there are very few artists using the technique as a fine art.


Examples of painting on the back of glass are to be found in various collections. The most significant of these is the Udo Dammert collection at the Schloßmuseum in Murnau, Bavaria. 


Backpainting/Verre Eglomisé/Hinterglasmalerei involves painting on the back of glass using opaque colours and  sometimes goldleaf. This means that the details and highlights of the painting must be applied first. Decorative mirrors are produced in a similar fashion, either by removing the silvering in the areas to be painted or in masking off the design before the glass is silvered.


In the past the paint used by artists was a mixture of ground pigment, linseed oil and varnish. The colour range was very limited being mainly white, black, ochre, brick red, olive green, brown and gold. The colour was applied pure and flat, without mixing colours . Black or brown was used to outline the design  and the rest of the colours were used to fill in the shapes.   


Today, special paints in strong, lightfast colours have been  developed for the signwriting trade. Yanny uses these paints when working on glass.


While being trained as a signwriter she came across the technique through doing decorative pub mirrors and panels. She developed a fascination for Verre Eglomisé and is now working with the technique to produce fine art paintings. Yanny also engraves the glass giving the artwork a soft line and sparkle. She creates paintings of Irish Wild Plants all of which are executed from life.

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