Victorian Reverse Glass

These images are examples of original Victorian glass pieces from pubs scattered around London & the British Isles. This page is a homage to the Victorian glass artists who produced this work 100 years before I produced mine at the turn of the 20th century.

This work has been a great source of inspiration to me and has educated and informed myself and many others.

Some of these images were supplied courtesy of my friend Doug Bernhardt.

Doug and myself travelled to many ancient public houses of London in a quest for original pub signage, elaborate mirrors & beautifully carved mill work from within these ornate gems we call pubs.  This valuable part of our cultural heritage is in danger of disapearing forever as the older pieces of glass get damaged or removed unless we maintain the skills needed to restore or replace them.  Click on the images below to see the detail up close, all this work has been painted by artists in reverse on glass over 100 years ago.   Enjoy!

25 Responses to “Victorian Reverse Glass”

  1. Graham Green says:

    Stunning website! Superb quality photographs. I gasped in awe and wonder at the images vic_1 and vic_2 in particular. What is the name of that pub, and where is it?

    I myself collect vintage and Victorian breweriana, focussing mainly on beer engines and beer-pump handles from that era. I do also, however, have a matching pair of reverse glass painted pub mirrors showing grape-vine leaves in spring & autumn (ie one is depicted in green, the other in russet, orientated in opposing directions), the grapes themselves being ground out of the glass. A fortuitous car boot sale find a few years ago, which I guess date from the 1890s.

    You have a rare and exceptionally special talent, David. I am so glad I stumbled across your website, and to discover that this incredible art-form has not died out, but continues into the 21st century and hopefully well beyond.

  2. David Smith says:

    Graham. Thankyou very much, keeping looking in for updates. Your car boot find sounds great would love to see them sometime. Appreciate your comments.

  3. Pat Welter says:

    Hi Dave: We’re just back from painting a mural(221hours) only to come back and find this…WOW what a feast for the eyes and great study and reference pics…I can’t get over the emensness of the pieces not only in size but the amount of work put into each…You are a luck person to live near and among such creativity, it’s of no wonder your own work soars…Thanks for the eye candy and study piece…Thanks, Pat.

  4. David Smith says:

    Hey Thanks Pat .Hope to see you some time soon.

  5. What a collection of techniques and art, stunning Dave. 221 Hours Pat, that’s a long haul. I’d love to be there when you two get together. Talent and passion would be overflowing.

  6. Leaf Vector says:

    I have been checking this web-site for for more than half an hour already and it has to be said that I feel impressed! I was able to find a ton of very usefl info. Most often I am only a passive participant and I almost never bother writing comments on blog entries, but your web-site is so interesting that I simply can’t leave without emphasizing that 🙂

  7. Bok Arviso says:

    Valuable information. Lucky me I found your website by accident, and I am shocked why this accident did not happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

  8. Dawn Kirby says:

    I have recently purchased a huge mirror 160 x 140 with an image of a heron at a pond with bull rushes at each side, lilly pads on the water with birds, butterflies and dragon flies in the sky! Its beautiful. I stumbled over your website whilst trying to find out about how it was made. I am astonished to find how intricate and time consuming the process is! Your work is wonderful! Thank you for your video clips, they are fascinating and I now really appreciate what I have got! I wondered if it was worth restoring to its original glory? Not much wrong really just lost some bits of silvering in places around the bevelling. Its a long journey to Devon from Sheffield for such a huge mirror – any suggestions?

  9. June Greaves says:

    What beautiful work, David ! It’s positively inspiring ! Please may I pick your brains ? I have been given a beautiful 8″ Victorian (1888) 3mm glass roundel painted portrait head of Richard Wagner signed with the letters SCD (on top of each other) Could it possibly be your ancestor ? It appears to have been painted (matt) on BOTH sides in black, brown & yellow. How do I clean it & should I lead surround it & protect it with thin glass on both sides or leave it open to air & damage ? Kind regards, June Greaves

  10. David Smith says:

    Thankyou very much. keep looking in .

  11. Garry says:

    I used to be very happy to search out this web-site.I needed to thanks for your time for this excellent read!! I positively enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

  12. Terry Grace says:

    thanks for the tour or your workshop the other evening, much appreciated. I am a fan of your work and even more impressed having seen your website!

    Kind regards,


  13. David Smith says:

    Terry. Thanks very much! it was pleasure to show you around.. see you again soon.

  14. Eirian Pascoe-Jones says:

    Hi there Dave,
    Have just seen you on Inside Out, and was so impressed with your work, went straight to your website to enjoy looking at more. Fabulous work, I love it! Thank you so much.

  15. Patrick says:

    Hi David,

    Just watched this documentary on Vimeo. Fantastic work and amazing process, thanks for sharing your craft.


  16. Albert says:

    I’ve seen your work in the video on VIMEO, and I want to tell you how it’s beautiful.
    I thought that nobody was able to work like this today.
    I didn’t understand everything in your conversation but the pictures are enough.
    Sorry for my english, I’m french and everybody know we are bad in foreign languages.
    Thanks again, now I’m going to visit your site, slowly.

  17. Jane Mason says:

    Hi David, I am an artist and have just spent the day watching your video for ‘Born and Raised’, trawling through your website and then telling people I know to have a look. I have been blown away by your talent! Your patience and skill are truly inspirational. Keep going strong! Jane

  18. Dave says:

    Mr. Smith, thank you for keeping the world slow, beautiful, and most of all, human!

  19. Dale Stephens says:

    What a treat it was to see your work, stumbling on it as I did via the John Mayer video. Many years ago I had the privilege of owning a small glass shop, and did a lot of work with hydroflouric acid. Even though I had been trained in etching and lithography, so was used to working with acids, I still found hydroflouric a daunting substance.
    My work in printmaking led me to do some work silk screening asphaltum as a resist for the acid.I was wondering if you have ever used this technique, or if you mostly use a vinyl resist.
    Your work makes me want to work with glass once again. Very inspirational.


  20. Jane Kean says:

    Well I too have stumbled on this having just been given a number of 1900s decorated French mirrored shop door panels. Now I know they are works of art. Wonderful website a joy to look at and an eduction in itself. Many Thanks for the hard work that must have gone into creating this. I shall try to track the artist of my Chartres pieces. Jane from France.

  21. Mike says:

    Lord have mercy.. Aliens are real.. your work is superb. if you’re not already famous, you should be.

  22. brandon v says:

    I would like to purchase one of your john mayer projects. My wife has been a long time fan of him and i would like to get her something so unique and amazing like that i would do just aboiut anything please let me know

  23. Joseph Jolly says:

    Amazing skills, artistic on the level of Michael Angelo, I have been a cabinetmaker for over 30 yrs., however, due to the lousy construction economy in the U.S. I am attempting to switch to art glass. Fusing and after looking at your work I would like to try some cold work. At 61 not enough time left to get to your level.
    I will keep your website and would love to see the tutorials. I have watched your videos and man nothing out there at this level Great Job!!
    Regards, Joseph

  24. David Smith says:

    Thanks Joseph.

  25. Janice Pierce says:

    Mr. David Smith,
    i am writing to enquire if you know anyone in the SE USA THAT KNOWS ABOUT REVERSE OIL Painting on mirrored glass? I have a large mirror that has a floral painting in reverse with an etched bowl–would like to know more about the piece, which my Dad bought at auction in 1973 or so, and it needs repair because quite alot of paint has chipped off of picture over last thirty yrs. I would love to send you some pics and see what you think—many thanks ahead of time—
    Janice Pierce
    1612 Burgandy Cove, Brandon MS
    [email protected]

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