Not only in Slovenia but in the greater part of Central Europe between the second half of the 18th century and the end of the 19th century, painting on glass developed, becoming a widespread example of art particularly in rural areas and small towns.
Painting on glass was truly a form of organized mass production, produced in painting factories that supplied the market with large quantities of these collections of paintings. The introduction of these paintings in Slovenia could be was divided in two groups. The first of such paintings were brought to our country by travelling merchants as examples of general Central European taste. These paintings were made in some of the major European centers, such as Sandl (Austria) and Buchers (Czech/Bohemia).
The main technique of glass painting is based on the application of pigment, egg tempera and oil. The glass painting technique also made use of gold leaf and different kinds of glosses which created a three-dimensional impression. Here, it must be pointed out that the entire production of paintings on glass consciously followed certain laws concerning motifs and colors. These were mastered by the painters by means of “serial” artistic procedures and effects such as glosses, shadowing and a general hierarchy of motifs which also dictated the rhythm of painting. The painters painted the negative of the image on the reverse side of the glass with the help of cardboard templates. This facilitated an infinite repetition of motifs and at the same time trained the mostly anonymous painters in the mastery of drawing and contouring the images which were then filled in with suitable colors.
Making replicas means repeating historical memories using modern techniques to preserve a valuable heritage, making the images available to all people in the same spirit as the original paintings were.
The motifs occurring in the paintings on glass were religious, involving saints, Christmas and other holidays, the sacraments, sins and the like. Individual artisan workshops developed their own recognizable idioms by depicting certain motifs and using specific methods of painting and a certain range of colors.
Typically, paintings on glass decorated the walls in a corner of the main room, which in the Slovenian countryside, is still referred to as ‘hiša’ (house) or ‘izba’. The corner in question was located above the table with benches and a chair (for the master). In this corner, above the table, the cross with Christ was displayed, while to the left and right of the cross, paintings on glass embellished the walls. Due to the size of the interiors common in traditional Slovenian architecture, the light in the room was much weaker than it is today, especially in the evening and at night, when only candles, wooden sticks or later more ‘modern’ gasoline lamps were lit. In such artificial evening light and the meagre meager daylight, the smooth surface and lively colored images on the glass created the effect of a curious backdrop or narrative on the walls of the main room, the center of family life.
Our family Jurjevic began exploring the numerous details of glass painting many years ago as part of our heritage. Although the paintings appear to be artistically pure and simple, the technique requires considerable technological skills and knowledge of the artisan. It demands the use of special tools and painting devices which facilitate the creation of certain expressive effects.
The exploration of the wide range of paintings on glass, today kept in Slovenian museums and private collections, took on the dimensions of a serious study and involved scanning through literature, inspecting the preserved heritage and visits to visiting well-known centers, where paintings on glass used to be made. The result of our research and the wide range of otifs we found through the years, can be seen in our collection in store.
Our years of research and experimentation with reproducing this unique art heritage of Slovenia has been deeply rewarding to us, connecting us with an important part of our culture. It gives us great pleasure to be able to share it with you.