University of Wisconsin–Madison

Friday Forum: Catherine Raymond

"Sacred Spaces, the Art of Merit Making and the Trans Asian Trade: Looking Beyond the Glass of Buddhist Mainland Southeast Asia"

Professor of Art History
School of Art & Design
Northern Illinois University

November 3, 2017
NOON-1:30 P.M.

Reverse Glass Paintings —which in Myanmar/Burma particularly, flourished in the mid-19th century— are proving a fascinating, yet a comparatively-unknown aspect of Southeast Asian artistic traditions. Originally of European provenance, these exotic productions in luminous colors were re-created by Chinese and Indian artists who had been introduced to this medium by Jesuit missionaries. Much admired by royal patrons, and later by prosperous landowners and city merchants during the colonial period, Reverse Glass Paintings became favored within mainland Southeast Asia as sacred objects for Buddhist merit-making, delineating sacred places. This vanishing art came to play a notable role in the trans-Asian trade: both between Europeans and Asian courts; and directly between China and India. Our 2014-2017 field research explored how artisans within the Chinese diaspora spread an emerging tradition of Reverse Glass Painting as a medium especially suitable for religious iconography across South and Southeast Asia.