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It was the Mughals who discovered the decorative potential of glass. When glass is cut, it has the opalescence and the glitter of a myriad diamonds. Glass engravings from India, exported to Europe to the 16th century, are said to have influenced the Venetians.

Glass painting is a traditional and ancient art of India. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, glass paintings emerged in Gujarat. This particular form of reverse painting is found all over Saurashtra and Kutch.

It is believed that the Chinese artists migrated to Gujarat and inspired the folk painters who adopted this new surface. With the passage of time, the local artists developed their own style. In Rajasthan the tradition of Theba, a gold and silver inlay work on glass took hold. Once again the themes were from tradition.

Towards the end of the 18th Century, pictures painted on glass sheets and framed with the unpainted side uppermost started becoming popular. Gold and metal foils were also used to simulate gems and ornaments. These paintings are found in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu and in Kerala and Maharashtra. They make excellent decorative wall pictures.
Though most of these are based on religion, other ostentatious themes are also presented. The glass paintings of Maharashtra, for example, fall into two categories. Those done for the court are sleek and depict the courtiers or equestrian figures. The second style is more folk-oriented and depict deities and sometimes more secular subjects. The colours are lively and the paintings small in size.

On the other hand, the glass paintings of Bihar are very different in form and sometimes in theme as well. There are complex paintings of great detail. These are larger pictures, usually with religious themes and are characterised by their fine linework and vibrant colours. There is another school that drew simpler pictures, undecorated and notable for their clarity. There are paintings with a single motif against a bare background. The colours are restrained, mainly brown and black.

The glass paintings of Bengal can be identified by the distinctive type of figures and costumes and by the muted pastel shades that are used. These paintings were used extensively during the festivals to decorate the Mandapas (platforms) .

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Explore the colors and images of incredible India at this rare online gallery of Indian Paintings, consisting magnificent Madhubani paintings, mysterious Warli paintings, Patachitras, Tribal Paintings, Thangka Paintings and also contemporary Indian art paintings.