The technique of back-painting glass actually dates back to pre-Roman eras. One of the key historical periods of the art was in Italy during the 13th to 16th centuries. Small panels of glass with designs formed by engraved gilding were applied to reliquaries and portable altars. The method used is described by Cennino Cennini. Other practitioners include Jonas Zeuner and Hans Jakob Sprungli (1559–1637).
It has also been used throughout Europe since the 15th century, appearing in paintings, furniture, drinking glasses and similar vessels and jewellery. It is also often seen in the form of decorative panels of mirrors, clock faces, and in more recent history, as window signs and advertising mirrors.