Arts & Culture

Art Spotlight: Verre églomisé Ship Tiles in Miss Florence Crane’s bathroom

Discover striking decorations at every turn at The Crane Estate.

With summer comes sailing, so this Art Spotlight highlights the decorative glass tiles with silver ships found in the bathroom of Miss Florence Crane.

This glamorous bathroom in the Crane summer mansion was designed by architect David Adler and his sister, interior designer Frances Elkins, giving a nod to the family’s passion for sailing. Its striking decoration features unique glass tiles created using a technique called “verre églomisé,” a French term for a process in which the reverse side of the glass is painted with a design along with gold or metal leaf. Here, the tiles are centered with fine black drawings of ships, which are then over-painted with silver. The ships are set against a cream-colored ground within a silver border. Similarly painted floral decorations are at each corner, all set within a turquoise frame. Connecting the tiles are small, decorative silver stars that cover the hardware mounts. And of course, state-of-the-art Crane Co. fixtures complete the room’s 1920s elegance.

The name “verre églomisé” (pronounced egg-low-me-zay), translates to “glass gilded” and is derived from the name of Parisian frame-maker and decorator Jean-Baptiste Glomy (1711-1786). He adopted and revived the ancient process of applying decorative designs to glass in a combination of plain color and gilding, most often to picture frames. Although églomisé as a technical term was established in 1852, reverse paint on glass goes back to Roman times. It was later popular in Italy for portable altars and reliquaries from the 13th-16th centuries, and was used throughout Europe since the 15th century, as well as in China, appearing in paintings, furniture, clock faces, drinking glasses, and jewelry. More recent applications include its use for window signs and advertising mirrors.

If you want to see this and other elegant Crane bathrooms, please visit The Great House at Castle Hill for our historic house tours, 10am-4pm Tuesdays through Sunday.

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