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Reverse Glass Painting in Java, 19th–20th Centuries: Reflections of a World on the Move

Painting under glass was widely practised in Indonesia between the end of the 19th century and the 1970s. It was so successful that almost all Javanese iconography was reproduced on this medium. However, as works on other media (paper, wood, leather) have survived less well over time, reverse glass paintings give us access to a range of images that would be hard to find elsewhere.

In my talk, I will focus on the question of modernity. During the span of time mentioned above, reverse glass painting has been a kind of emblem of “modernity”, not only by virtue of the medium itself but because of the models these paintings reproduced, the images they displayed and the ideas they conveyed.

Based on a corpus of several hundred items, my aim is to show that iconography on glass can contribute to the study of Javanese history in the 19th – 20th centuries, and in particular enable us to better apprehend and understand iconographic tastes and uses, of course, as well as the circulation of ideas, both religious and political, within the different strata of colonial society in its non-European components.

About the speaker

Jérôme Samuel is a French scholar, full professor (Indonesian and Malaysian studies) at Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (Inalco, Paris), and Director of the Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia (Irasec, Bangkok). He is also the editor-in-chief of the journal Archipel (Paris). His work focuses mainly on Indonesian Malay, its language policies, terminologies, didactics, and mutual intelligibility with Malaysian Malay.

Besides, for the past 20 years, he has been conducting extensive research on traditional and contemporary reverse glass painting in Indonesia (Java and Bali). To this end, through numerous field surveys, he has built a database of over 2,500 items and has published numerous articles on the subject.



Thursday, 29 February 2024 at 19:00


Lecture Room, 4/Floor, The Siam Society


Members and Students (to undergraduate level) — Free of charge
Non-Members — THB 200

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