A Charming Pair of c.1800 Reverse Glass Paint & Foil Pictures of Birds Amongst Foliage


Origin: Austrian/German
Period: Late Eighteenth / Early Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1790-1810
Width: 4.5 inches
Height: 7 inches
(6” x 8.25” in Frames)

The delicately proportioned Georgian period reverse glass paint and foil pictures in their original ebonised frames depicting two colourful birds amongst flowers and foliage survive from the turn of the eighteenth century in the Austrian Empire.

The pictures do have some areas of small flaking and loss to the foil which is so common on early reverse glass but the majority, probably 80% remains in good condition. The frames are original and have been strengthened at some stage with small patches of webbed tape to the reverse. Also verso, we discovered that there is some very old printed text backing, which is in the German/Austrian tongue.

The process of reverse glass painting originated in sixteenth-century Germany, initially as a means for reproducing prints and other well-known religious images for display in upper-class homes. By the eighteenth century, reverse-glass paintings were produced and distributed on a wider scale. From Augsburg, the craft spread through the Black and Bavarian Forests, then to Silesia, Bohemia, and to the Austrian village of Sandl. This pair would have been crafted in one of these areas. There were nearly twenty workshops producing reverse-glass paintings in Sandl alone by the third quarter of the nineteenth century.

Folksy, early, scarce…and beautifully bohemian.