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.
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10 places in Europe all students should visitThenationalstudent, September 17th
You can meander along the narrow streets and over the footbridges, whilst stopping off at one of the many glass making businesses along route to view a murano glass making demonstration. Marseille's beaches. Marseille's coastline is spectacular, with ...Read more
Impressions: a new exhibition at The Gallery on the CornerThe Edinburgh Reporter, September 16th
Freya's wonderful mosaics also feature animals; Moonlit Owl sits on a branch against a glorious turquoise background, his wide open glare a sharp contrast to the peaceful, serene eyes of Resting Fox. Whilst the mosaics include Murano glass canes, Freya ...Read more
Preview of Chappaqua Moving Online AuctionThe Daily Voice, September 15th
House Of Faberge Musical Carousel Egg, Pair Of Basalt Style Urns, Sterling Silverware Set, Gilded Royal Albert Bone China Tea, large collection decorative horses, Murano Glass, Natuzzi Red Leather Couch, large collection of Swarovski crystal, Pool...Read more
Sunday's business news roundup, Sept. 14The News-Press, September 14th
Owned and operated by Angelo and Victoria Molinari, the store specializes in Antica Murrina handcrafted jewelry by Murano Glass in Venice, Italy. It is only the second signature status Antica Murrina store in the U.S.. All Antica Murrina jewels and...Read more
La Vita Beretta: At Home in Italy with the First Family of FirearmsForbes, September 10th
Opposite the factory's northern section, above a dun-colored corner butcher shop at one of Gardone's very few cross streets, hangs a modest sign with a small arrow pointing to the left: Beretta Uffici, the offices. But 100 yards up the road and 50...Read more
artnet Asks: Glass Designer Yoichi Ohiraartnet News, September 9th
Although he started out in fashion, Japanese artist Yoichi Ohira has received great critical acclaim for his design work in Italian glass sculptures. While working in fashion in the early 1970s, Ohira was inspired by a television program on Murano...Read more
Naples beachfront resort renovatedThe News-Press, September 8th
The nation's second signature status Antica Murrina/Murano glass store opened this month in The Promenade at Bonita Bay in Bonita Springs. Owned and operated by Angelo and Victoria Molinari, the store specializes in Antica Murrina handcrafted jewelry ...Read more
Different Craft Ideas Where You Can Use Decorative Glass GemsGroundReport, August 27th
Murano glass was likewise celebrated for its shades. The approaches to shade was by utilizing diverse coloring operators and chemicals. A coloring operator was ground, blended and afterward liquefied with the glass. Huge numbers of these coloring ...Read more