When people talk about Italian art glass, they are usually referring to the vases, paperweights, goblets, and decorative objects produced in the city of Venice and the adjacent island of Murano. Indeed, Murano is the heart of Italian glassmaking, the place where, in the late 13th century, glassmakers were banished lest their furnaces catch the rest of Venice on fire.

Even though the middle of the 19th century was a time of much innovation for Venetian and Murano artisans, the periods of interest to most collectors of antique and vintage Italian art glass are the years between the two world wars and the post-war decades of the 1950s and 1960s.

Ercole Barovier was perhaps the most influential figure of the 1920s and 1930s. His family’s glassmaking roots went all the way back to the Renaissance, and his family’s first company, Artisti Barovier, was established in 1878. In 1920, the firm changed its name to Vetreria Artistica Barovier & Co., which lasted until its merger with Ferro Toso in 1936.

Before Ercole Barovier took over the firm’s designs, his family’s company hired some of the best glass masters in Murano, including future Venini legend Vittorio Zecchini. For Barovier, Zecchini created murrine mosaic paintings on the sides of vases. Other examples combine several techniques—for example, a murrine goblet depicting flowers against a blue-sky background might have a very traditional, decorative Venetian knob between the goblet’s bowl and foot.

For its part, Ferro Toso was known in the 1920s and early 1930s for vases that combined classic Venetian forms with bold coloration. Toso’s Primavera series from this period is particularly prized, as are the pieces that were made using a new technique developed by Toso for coloring hot glass.

The post-war years were unquestionably Murano’s most glorious period. In the 1940s, Barovier & Toso produced thick, clear pieces with textured surfaces called Lenti, as well as the exceptional and highly colorful vases in the now-rare Oriente series. In the 1950s, Barovier & Toso would introduce flat-side cylindrical vases in basketweave cane patterns or checkerboard designs.

Seguso Vetri d’Arte was another firm that made strides in the 1930s but really came into its own after the war. Some of its thick, organic-shaped vases were three-sided, others w...

Of the post-war Murano glass factories, Venini is perhaps the most highly regarded, and certainly the best known. In addition to boasting the talents of Paolo Venini himself, who perfected the sommerso technique in the 1930s and used the traditional technique of inciso to create vases that appeared to glow from within, the company attracted architects and artists such as Carlo Scarpa, Fulvia Bianconi, and Gio Ponti to Murano.

Scarpa was considered the Frank Lloyd Wright of glass, which is to say that he injected modernism into the look of this traditional medium. After Scarpa left Venini in the 1940s to devote himself to architecture, his son, Tobia, joined the firm. Bianconi took his background as an illustrator and applied it to glass, using the emphatic forms produced by Venini’s glassblowers as armatures for his witty explorations of color—patchworks, horizontal stripes, and polka dots were particular favorites.

Ponti was an architect by training but Venini brought out the painter in him. For Venini, he designed flared vases constructed of nothing but multi-colored lengths of cane, or bottles wrapped in frilly spirals to suggest the lines of a skirt. Even his most ostensibly conservative pieces contained colorful twists, such as a bulbous-bottomed bottle whose body is perfectly bisected by a shift from red to green.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Loetz.com

Loetz.com

This fabulous site is a guide to Bohemian art glass makers from 1885 to 1920. Loetz was the premier Bohemian glass … [read review or visit site]

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Chris and Val Stewart’s impressive attempt to create a complete catalogue of all known cloud glass, a decorative … [read review or visit site]

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

The heart of this website, home of the Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club, is the Identification Project, whe… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Top Xxl Unique 1/1 Murano Glass Vase Battuto Glass Master Luca Vidal SignedVintage Murano Italy Millifiori Cased Studio Art Glass Paperweight Nr AvmOggetti Lino Tagliapietra Fal Murano Vase Vtg Murano Italy Millefiori Studio Cased Floral Art Glass Paperweight Nr AvmVtg Murano Italy Abstract Swirl Hand Blown Studio Art Glass Paperweight Nr AvmVtg Murano Italy Hand Blown Art Glass Wrapped Candy Candies Lot Of 11 Nr AvmRare Murano Glass Vase Incalmo Glass Master A. Mandruzzato SignedVtg Murano Italy Millefiori Lot Of 3 Studio Art Glass Paperweight Nr AvmWonderfull Museal Xxl Murano Glass Sculpture Glass Factory Eugenio Ferro SignedRare Murano Glass Vase Battuto Glass Master De Mio Giuliano SignedTommaso Buzzi For Venini 1930s Murano Glass Zanfirico BirdVtg Murano Italy Millifiori Judaica Studio Cased Art Glass Paperweight Nr AvmRare Xl Murano Glass Vase Incalmo Sommerso Glass Designer Toso SignedRare Murano Glass Vase Battuto Glass Master De Mio Giuliano SignedExtraordinary Salviati Moser Centerpiece With Hand Painted Enamel Decoration~giant~hand Blown Glass Art Wall Bowl~table Platter~days End~signed~murano,italyPair Rare Italian Seguso Arte Vetro Murano Art Glass Swan Sculptures ~giant~hand Blown Glass Art Wall Bowl~table Platter~days End~signed~murano,italyMurano Controlled Bubble Speared Green Glass Christmas Tree Rare BaseStunning Murano Venetian Wine Glass, Goblet, Stem- Dolphin-swanVtg Murano Italy Millifiori Fish Cased Studio Art Glass Paperweight Nr AvmVtg Murano Italty Millifiori Studio Cased Lion Art Glass Paperweight Nr AvmArchimede Seguso Murano Glass Rainbow BearRare Murano Glass Vase Battuto Glass Master De Mio Giuliano SignedPair Murano Italy Studio Art Glass Pulled Feather & Twisted Ribbon PaperweightsMid Century Carlo Moretti Italian Art Glass Venetian Barbini Seguso Murano Vintage Millefiori Ruffle Edge Vase MuranoVintage Pink Venetian Murano Blown Glass Chandelier Floral Crystal Ceiling LightVintage Murano Glass Ruby Red Decanter W/ 6 Glasses, Hand Painted Flowers/goldRare Murano Glass Vase Xxl Filigrana Glass Master Gabriele Urban SignedVintage Italian Art Glass Murano Venetian Paperweight Latticino & Millefiori?Big Over 22 Ilbs. Italian Murano Art Glass Arab Middle Eastern Figure SculptureHand Blown Glass Art Bowl Vase Murano Italian Dirwood Blue Aquamarine Purple2 Carlo Moretti Art Glass Champagne FlutesPair Of Mid Century Murano Art Glass Lamps-38.5" Golden RibbedLot Of 18 Art Glass Murano Icicles Christmas Ornament Holiday Tree DecorationAntique Murano Art Glass Ashtray Bon Bon Dish Bowl-clear Encased Ruby Stain-rareBeautiful Vintage Murano Glass Duck Stripes Rainbow Paper Label Art GlassRare Venetian Adventurine Gold Serpent Seahorse Tall Wine Water Goblet(s) Murano Green & Gold Christmas TreeGorgeous Vintage Blue/white Latticino Millefiori Murano Italy PaperweightVintage Murano Egg Art Glass Paperweight LatticinoLaved Italian Hand Blown Clown OrnamentVtg Murano Italy Sea Life Crab Starfish Cased Studio Art Glass Paperweight AvmArte Italica Animale Glass & Pewter Ice Bucket W/ Deer Handles Vintage Ornate Hand Painted Gold & Floral Cobalt Murano Pedestal Covered CompoteAntique Italian Murano Art Glass Owl Figure PaperweightVintage Ornate Hand Painted Gold & Floral Ruby Murano Covered Compote NrItalian Murano Millefiori Heavy Thick Cased Flower Cobalt Blue Paperweight VaseItalian Mod Style Studio Art Glass Venini Form Latticino Pink White Swirl BowlMurano Glassware Sculpture Swirl Stretched Glass Blue Green Orange Label 11" Gorgeous Murano Italy Opaline Green Floral Art Glass Powder Jar & Perfume BottleAmber Venetian Blown Glass Salt With Pale Amethyst Dolphin Handles - 1920sArchimede Seguso Murano Vintage Duck Pink Alabastro Glass Elegant Venetian BirdVintage Murano Italy Fish Aquarium Block Paperweight Attributed Ricardo Licata Vintage Murano Glass FigurineMid Century Murano Latticino Twisted Ribbon Art Glass Paperweight W/adventurineMassive! 40cm Original Italian Studio Art Glass Cased Vase & Label Murano DesignMurano Black Art Glass Bowl: Galaxy Tutti Frutti Millefiori Silver Fleck Look!!Italian Murano Art Glass Mid Century Modern Peacock Colored Bowl Dish 9-1/2"

Recent News: Murano and Italian Art Glass

Source: Google News

Design Sales Hit Dizzying Heights; Noguchi Breaks Record
New York Observer, December 18th

Bianconi, the so-called “master of Murano glass” was born in 1915 and designed one-of-a-kind pieces in the glass-blowing island off Venice shortly after World War II. He eventually became probably the only “name” glassmaker in the world in the 20th...Read more

Just Open: St Hotel, St Kilda
Good Food, December 17th

Bare bricks, a central atrium, an Italian glass lift and a verdant vertical garden give an airy, stylish feel to the Saint, which sports nooks for all moods and occasions – an Astroturfed al fresco terrace for Pimm's, a loungey, mid-century enclave for...Read more

Openings, Sales and Shopping Events in New York City
New York Times, December 17th

The goods include a Murano glass dresser ($8,500) and vintage press photos from the 1940s ($5 to $225). Admission is $10. At 125 West 18th Street. The sustainable shoe brand Coclico is hosting a holiday pop-up shop this season at its NoLIta store...Read more

Portfolio: In Luxe
Home Accents Today, December 16th

Shown in copper, the Olympia lamp from Thumprints stands regal and imposing in reeded Murano glass. In Luxe_Lite Source. Intersecting geometric shapes create a dynamic focal point on the Mireya lamp from Lite Source, crafted from metal with an antique ...Read more

London hotels with river views
Telegraph.co.uk, December 16th

Mondrian, London. The view, the view! London and its river glitter outside: the panorama from the Rooftop Bar rivals Manhattan or Hong Kong. A shifting cast of cyclists, skaters and commuters on the Thames Path passes as you eat and the tide rises and...Read more

Travel That Changes You: Top 11 Adventure Destinations Of 2014
Forbes, December 15th

It's easy to get caught up in everything that's exquisite at the Wildenstein family's Ol Jogi ranch in Kenya—the Murano glass globes over lamps, the sumptuous Hermès linens, the perfectly polished Buccellati silver—but that's missing the point...Read more

Piqua home is 'feast for the eyes'
Piqua Daily Call, December 15th

Garlands and wreaths filled with DeCarlini Italian glass blown and/or molded ornaments along with candy/store display containers resembling Santa, and numerous antique ornaments complement the room's décor. A revolving pre-lit tree in the family room ...Read more

Murano-Glass Christmas Trees Are on the Block
Architectural Digest (blog), December 3rd

This week Millon will auction a number of circa-1960 Christmas trees by Barovier & Toso, a Venetian company known for its Murano-glass lighting. Each tree is unique, and this monochrome example features twisted transparent Murano glass with iridescent ...Read more