Antique Japanese Glass Reverse Painting

Discussion in 'Art' started by georgeingraham, Jul 3, 2020.

  1. Just to share..

    Reverse painted picture on 9" x 12 1/4" glass showing three young Japanese ladies in kimono garments from the Meiji period (1868-1912) on the Kyobashi bridge which was first erected in 1879.

    Because of the Meiji period kimono garments and the bridge still in its original wood construction, this had to have been painted just before a great flood that washed it away in 1885. It is one of four hand carved wood panels that made up a lantern.

    Kyōbashi (京橋) is the name of a bridge as well as the geographical region around it. Two regions with this name exist in Japan, one is in Tokyo and one lies in Osaka. It refers to a bridge connecting roads to Kyoto.

    Reverse painting on glass is an art form consisting of applying paint to a piece of glass and then viewing the image by turning the glass over and looking through the glass at the image.

    These paintings can be realistic or abstract. Realistic reverse paintings like this one are more challenging to create as one must, for example, in painting a face, to put the pupil of an eye on the glass before the iris, exactly the opposite of normal painting. If this is neglected the artist will not be able to correct the error as they will not get in between the glass and the paint already applied.




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  2. blooey

    blooey Well-Known Member

    Why would the last illustration you posted talk about Japanese artists and use a Chinese pith painting to illustrate the point? daft!

    Also, the reverse painting is obviously copied from a photograph so your dating is probably off.
  3. I shared the Chinese illustration because could not find a Japanese reverse glass painter and work station.

    He is not Pith painting on paper, but reverse glass painting. There is nothing to suggest the background was "obviously copied" from a photograph..

    The connection between Japanese and Chinese is interesting when you read how the art style was brought to China by Jesuit missionaries, then spreading later to Japan.. It is a historical reference. I can see how it could be confusing. Sorry you do not like it..

    The artist could well have painted the ladies first and background a little later, or he could have had his little work station set up on the bridge. If the ladies were painted prior, he would have painted the background within a reasonably short period of time there after. The estimate for dating is just fine..
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
  4. blooey

    blooey Well-Known Member

    I can see he is not pith painting, what I said was that the illustration was a pith painting.

    Stylistically, your reverse painting is later than you imagine ..composition is also photographic/westernized and not seen in pieces of the age you suppose it to be.
  5. I have pictures of two more of the four panels from this lantern.

    Maybe there are a couple of clues that can help Blooey ?

    There is a seal on one of the other two paintings that I have not been able to translate, and a few markings on the back of my frame.


  6. blooey

    blooey Well-Known Member

    Clues I need not, I've seen plenty of wannabees in my day, but thanks anyway.

    Oh and BTW, your frame looks a lot more like Chinese work than Japanese.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
    Jeff Drum and Christmasjoy like this.
  7. Ok then... Good grief.. Thanks just the same, think I will just use a grain of salt for your reply..

    The scrolling clouds carvings could be either, Japanese or Chinese. Same with the Bat.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
  8. Two of the other lantern panels..

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
    Houseful likes this.
  9. antidiem

    antidiem Well-Known Member

    For reasons OTHER than mentioned by Blooey, I believe your reverse mirror painting was painted from a photograph too.. Which would date it much more recently than you have dated it.

    The other 2 panels you posted are small, but the one on the left appears to have been painted from a photograph also. I cannot see the one on the right well enough.
  10. Thank you antidiem.. Much appreciated .. :) Wish I did have better pics of the other two panels..

    The seller tried to hunt the buyers down for me in hopes I might have an opportunity to buy them.. The sales were so long ago that records for both PayPal and eBay were not able to be found.

    My favorite of the three is actually the one on the left.
  11. antidiem

    antidiem Well-Known Member

  12. blooey

    blooey Well-Known Member

    I find it very odd that there are no other examples of 19thc "Japanese" reverse glass paintings of this type and quality.

    Almost all "Japanese" reverse glass paintings are mainly mis-identified Chinese works. Period pieces, be they from either China or Japan are FAR higher quality than these, which to me seem hurried and formulaic.

    Also odd that Meiji period craftsmen (working in any material) tended to produce very finely executed objects while your wooden frames are executed in what I would describe as a rather slap-dash manner.

    I'm sure you are set on your assessment of these things, so I'll leave it at that.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2020
  13. Reverse painting on glass was taken up as an art form by the Japanese during the 19th century, but I do not know how much earlier than the tail end of Edo period, 1868 that might have been. Or if it was not until towards the end of the 19th century after 1868 into Meiji Period.

    Interestingly, another reverse painting art medium, the the art of Chinese "inside reverse bottle painting" was not really developed until this same time period, the last quarter of the 19th century.

    Of course one being in China, and the other in Japan..

    But both reverse painting art mediums first experienced a variety of learning curves. From the actual painting skill, and then to include the paints, painting brushes and tools. We can see the struggles both of these kind of reverse painting artists experienced in their early works. Reverse painting in realistic compared to abstract painting is considerably more difficult.

    I have always sort of been more attracted to antiques that tend to be more "rough around the edges", which is what attracted me to this particular painting. And yes, including the rougher hand carving in the wood work. Followed by the desire to hunt down the other two of the four lantern panels.

    For me, I sense an early artist struggling with the early, and very crude paints.

    I tried to find the reference telling the mixture for these early paints, but can not find it.. I do remember the use of the word, "dirty" and or "muddy".
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
  14. blooey

    blooey Well-Known Member

    Yeah sure
    Jeff Drum likes this.
  15. Blooney..

    Can I roll you a joint or buy you a drink or something ? You seem to have your panties in a wad today.
  16. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    What makes you think the kimonos are specifically Meiji? According to the information I have, kimonos have remained the same from the Edo period til now.
    Even if Meiji period kimonos were different (which they weren't imo), it doesn't mean the paintings date from that period. Even pre-Edo Period kimonos are still depicted today.

    George, please don't believe anyone who links East Asian reverse painting to Romania. The Jesuits who introduced it to China were Portuguese.
    Reverse painting used to be done a lot in Europe, especially for religious paintings. It can still be found in southern Germany and a few other parts of Central Europe.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2020
  17. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    That is very short a paragraph about the spread of reverse glass painting after the exposé about reverse painting in the Byzantine Empire and Europe. As you can see there is a 'period' punctuation mark after Transylvania, which means the end of the sentence.:playful:

    "This style of painting is found in traditional Romanian icons originating from Transylvania.[citation needed] Jesuit missionaries brought it to China[2], and it spread to Japan from China during the Edo period. Japanese artists took up the technique during the nineteenth century.[3] Reverse glass painting was also popular in India[4] and Senegal[5] in the nineteenth century."

    Another way could be a list:
    - This style of painting is found in traditional Romanian icons originating from Transylvania.[citation needed]

    - Jesuit missionaries brought it to China[2],

    - It spread to Japan from China during the Edo period. Japanese artists took up the technique during the nineteenth century.[3]

    - Reverse glass painting was also popular in India[4]

    - and Senegal[5] in the nineteenth century.
  18. If it is just the same.. I would like to just move on. Just not in the mood to feel like arguing over a few years difference in opinion for when this was painted.

    I guessed a time frame based Meiji period kimono garments having come into style on or about the beginning of Meiji era ( from what I remember reading ), combined with the bridge still in its original wood construction which was washed away during to a flood 1885.

    If I am off a few years, no big deal. I am even ok with it having been painted after the bridge was washed out, and even being painted from a photograph at a later date.

    Even if it was painted after the turn of the century, I can live with that.. Not worth going back and forth over.

    Thanks for your help though.. I do appreciate it..
  19. antidiem

    antidiem Well-Known Member

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