Pair of medallions in verre églomisé representing the Château de Saint-Cloud and the Berlin Arsenal

France, first half of the 18th century
Gold and silver on verre églomisé

These two glass plates of oval shape show respectively a view of the Château de Saint-Cloud and a view of the Berlin Arsenal. 

In the foreground of the “Veüe du château de St Cloud”, a man wearing Court clothes is walking his dog on a paved area. Facing the gate, another man and his son are looking out over the castle. In the middle, there is a richly embellished gate.  Behind it, one can see the central body of the castle and two wings, with numerous windows, rich columns, and pediments. Smoke is coming out of one of the chimneys. The border of the plate is made up of three friezes decorated with silver and gold threads. The central frieze is decorated with motifs of superimposed fish scales, punctuated by eight small oval medallions formed by an interlace.

In the foreground of the “Veüe de l’Arsenal de Berlin”, also on a paved area, a man seen from behind walks away towards one of the wings of the arsenal. Two people are talking, and a dog is standing on its hind legs seems to want to play. Very slightly to the right, one can see a carriage with a coat of arms driven by two horses. Carrying a lady, it is driven by a coachman and a valet in livery. Behind, it is the palace with its many windows, richly decorated with columns, trophies, and sculptures, especially above the baluster near the roofs. Smoke is coming out of one of the chimneys. The border of the plate is similar to that of the Château de Saint-Cloud.

Each gilt wood frame is carved with scrolled motifs from which flowering and leafy stems escape on both sides, punctuated by cartouches, all on a background of barley grains. Slightly set back, another frieze features foliage. The outer frieze is made of gadroons.

The verre églomisé technique

The verre églomisé technique dates back from the ancient period. It consists of fixing a thin sheet of gold or silver under the glass, executing the drawing with a dry point on the support and then holding it in place with a second glass plate. This process, used in Bohemia under the name of Zwischengoldglässer, has no equivalent in French. 

It is Jean-Baptiste Glomy (1711−1786), who was a print dealer, draftsman, engraver, and auctioneer in Paris in the 18th century, who made this process fashionable again. Associated with the merchant Helle, he published a catalogue raisonné of Rembrandt’s etchings. He used this process to frame his engravings with a golden thread, giving his name to this technique.

The Berlin Arsenal

The Berlin Arsenal, which is today the German Historical Museum, is one of the most important German Baroque buildings. Located on Unter den Linden avenue, the first project for the building was designed in 1685 by the French architect François Blondel (1618−1686) on behalf of the Great Elector, Frederick William I of Brandenburg. For financial reasons, the foundation stone for the building was not laid until 1695 by Frederick William’s son and successor, Frederick III, later Frederick I of Prussia. The work continued from 1695 to 1706 in front of the Hohenzollern Palace, and involved four architects: Johann Arnold Nering, Martin Grünberg, Andreas Schlueter and finally Jean de Bodt. The building, which served as an arsenal, expressed the claim of the young electorate to sovereignty. It consists of four wings, each ninety meters long, around an inner courtyard, which strict classical harmony can be perceived on this verre églomisé, mellowed with rich Baroque sculptures. 

The ensemble was transformed into a museum under the impulse of the Emperor Wilhelm I from 1877 to 1880, who had important architectural modifications carried out, in particular the installation of a glass roof over the inner courtyard and an interior staircase, in order to adapt the building, 

After a massive destruction during World War II, the arsenal was rebuilt in 1948. More recently, it also underwent a major renovation between 1999 and 2003, following the architect Winfried Brenne’s plans, which allowed the architectural sculptures and the pink-colored facade of the baroque period to be restored.

The Château de Saint-Cloud

The history of the Château de Saint-Cloud and its park began in the 16th century and was marked by the year 1577, when Catherine of Médicis (1519−1589) offered Jérôme de Gondi, a Florentine banker, the Hôtel d’Aulnay, acquired by the crown a few years earlier on the hillside overlooking the Seine. After extensive renovations, the palace became an elegant Renaissance residence overlooking a terraced garden. In 1654, it passed into the hands of the Protestant banker Barthélemy Hervart. After having built a new wing connected to the old building, the latter was forced in 1658 to sell the estate to the crown in order to allow Philippe d’Anjou, future Duc d’Orléans and the king’s brother, to have a residence at the gates of the capital. Fascinated by Saint-Cloud, he entrusted the task of embellishing it to the team formed by Le Nôtre, gardener and Contrôleur general des Bâtiments du Roi, and the architects Le Pautre and Hardouin-Mansart. Keeping the original above, which became the south wing of the palace and where the princely apartments were located, he had a central building built to house the royal suite and the chapel, and a north wing in which the Galerie d’Apollonwas installed, which decorations were entrusted to Pierre Mignard. The ensemble then took on the U shape around a rectangular courtyard of honor that one can see in this painting. 

Always benevolent, Monsieur gladly let the public get in, even during royal visits, and allowed vehicles to drive through the lower park. The scene in the foreground of this verre églomisé, in which a man is seen walking with a dog, while another man is accompanied by a child to whom he seems to be giving explanations while looking at the castle, illustrates the habit that contemporaries had of being able to access the palace, from which they are separated here by a gate. 

In February 1785, Louis XVI bought the palace from his cousin Philippe, the future Philippe Égalité, for Queen Marie-Antoinette. The queen’s architect, Richard Mique, carried out a partial reconstruction and a new layout of the interior spaces, work that lasted until 1788. Assigned to residence in the Tuileries from October 1789, the royal family was allowed to stay in Saint-Cloud during the summer. On November 1, 1790, the Court left Saint-Cloud. Having become national property, the palace was no longer inhabited during the Revolution and its furniture was sold. 

Restored at the request of Napoleon, it became in the 19th century the sovereigns’ residence during the summer. After the declaration of war against Prussia, the most important works of art of the palace were transferred to the Mobilier National and to the Palais du Louvre. The palace was taken over by Prussian troops and burned down in 1870 when a French shell intended for the Prussian troops posted in the park, accidentally exploded in the emperor’s bedroom. 

Too closely linked to the memories of the monarchy and of the Empire, the building remained in a state of ruin for twenty years and was razed to the ground in 1892.


  • F. Sydney Eden, “Verre églomisé”, The Connoisseur, n°32, June 1932.
  • Rudy Eswarin, “Terminology of verre églomisé”, Journal of Glass Studies, Vol. 21, 1975.
  • Paul Guth, “Toute la vérité sur le verre églomisé”, Connaissance des Arts, n°66, August 1957, p. 28.
  • W.B Honey, “Gold engraving under glass”, The Connoisseur, n°92, December 1933.


  • Height: 18 cm – 7 18 inches
  • Width: 24 cm – 9 ¾ inches
  • Height (with frame): 28,5 cm – 11 ¼ inches
  • Width (with frame): 36 cm – 14 18 inches

  • Hauteur : 18 cm – 7 18 inches
  • Largeur : 24 cm – 9 3⁄4 inches
  • Hauteur (avec cadre) : 28,5 cm – 11 1⁄4 inches
  • Largeur (avec cadre) : 36 cm – 14 18 inches

    • Rudy Eswarin, « Terminology of verre églomisé », in Journal of Glass Studies, Vol. 21, 1975. Paul Guth, « Toute la vérité sur le verre églomisée », in Connaissance des Arts, n°66, août 1957, p. 28.

    • W.B Honey, « Gold engraving unde glass », in The Connoisseur, n°92, décembre 1933.

    • F.A Montenay, Saint Cloud, une vie de château, Vogele Edition, Genève, 2005. F. Sydney Eden, « Verre églomisé », in The Connoisseur, n°32, juin 1932.