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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'Heart & Soul' Valentine's art show at Grand BohemianAsheville Citizen-Times, January 25th
Her designs, created on silver and crystal beaded chains, may include hand-hammered silver links, pearls and gem stones, all using fine Italian glass as her raw material. Colors and patterns range from neutral blacks and whites to all colors under the ...Read more
Marsa Malaz Kempinski, Qatar's new ultra-luxury resort, unveiledGulf Times, January 25th
Another attraction includes the hand-made Murano glass oyster chandeliers from Italy, which took three weeks to assemble all the 44,000 pieces of oysters across four chandeliers exhibited within the hotel's lobby. More than 3,000 pieces of handcrafted ...Read more
Sailing in the very lap of luxuryHamilton Spectator, January 24th
For our first lunch, we ate at Weltmeere, the main restaurant on deck four with Murano glass light fixtures and a silver leaf ceiling. Both the appetizer (shrimp) and the main course (turbot) were perfectly prepared. Service by the young wait staff...Read more
Berluti Men's RTW Fall 2015Women's Wear Daily, January 23rd
The color palette was eclectic, with a rich palette of greens and grays complemented by shades inspired by Murano glass: dusty purple, sulfur yellow, terracotta and cobalt blue. For those whose tastes run more conservative, Berluti also showed its...Read more
The Winter Antiques Show Surprises With a Range of Offeringsartnet News, January 23rd
Like an upscale flea market, the fair's offerings range from Persian rugs and Italian glass to fashion photography from the 1950s and paintings from every century. You'll also see jewelry designed by the likes of Niki de Saint Phalle and Salvador Dalí...Read more
Greensburg Antique Show and Sale is this weekendTribune-Review, January 22nd
Antiques enthusiasts are forgoing the cut glass and Victorian furniture that were once favorites and now search for smaller art deco-style furniture and Italian 1950s Murano glass, Marshall said. Part of the shift in antiques shoppers is their...Read more
Murano Glass Museum Reopens With Luciano Vistosi ExhibitionThe Venice Times, January 22nd
On February 9 the Murano Glass Museum will reopen again, completely renovated, with expanded space, new services to the public, elevators and temporary exhibition space. The Museum of Glass in Murano, one of the twelve of the Civic Museums ...Read more
All aboard the 'most luxurious ship ever built'New York Post, January 21st
Have your pick of 694 seats fronting cocktail tables fitted with Murano glass lamps at the Hollywood glam-styled, cabaret-ready Constellation Theater. There's supposedly a swan motif enveloping the entire place, if your imagination's good enough...Read more