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”)



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    

Murano 1964 Amethyst/azure 5.8" Double Sommerso Rectangular Slab Vase -a1Lino Tagliapietra Vase Murano 1976Murano Glass - Sommerso - Large Faceted Vase - 5 Layers + Controlled BubblesFantastic Murano Uranium Glass Bowl - Triple Cased 1960's Diamond Shaped 25cmPair Of Old Venetian Murano Glass Birds White Latticino & Colored Ribbon Swirl Modernist Barovier & Toso Murano Glass Figural Bird Fenicio Design Toucan ParrotGorgeous Italian Maestri Vetrai Murano Glass Vase - 399 S25Stunning Magnum Paperweight 6.75" Murano Tight Concentric Canes UnsignedVintage Tapio Wirkkala For Venini Murano Art Glass Egg Paperweight SculptureRare Fulvio Bianconi Venini Murano Glass Apple C1950 Venetian Venini SignedFratelli Toso Glass Murano Millefiori Murrine Cane Small Vase Acid Matte FinishOld Venetian Glass White Swirl & Gold Aventurine Dolphin Fish Stem GlassVintage Murano Italian Art Glass Floral Cane & Confetti Egg Paperweight Rji NrVintage Murano Italian Art Glass Beta Fighting Fish Aquarium Paper Weight Rji Mid Century Modern Aventurine Blk & Wht Spiral Murano Art Glass Bowl Venini EraRare Aventurine Barovier Salviati Venetian Latticino Glass 19th Antique Murano Pair Of Old Venetian Murano Glass Ducks White Latticino Gold Aventurine Flakes Dino Martens Murano Italian Art Glass Vase Areliano Toso Mezza FiligranaVintage Murano Italian Art Glass Red & White Fish Aquarium Paper Weight Rji NrGold-red Seguso Murano Large Sculptural Dresser Jar W/ Bird Lid, Foil Labels McmVintage Barovier & Toso Cordonato D'oro Zebrati Murano Glass Bowl, Italy 1950'sFucina Degli Angeli James Coignard Murano Egidio Costantini 1975 "manichini"Anzolo Fuga Avem Murano 1960 Vase A Tall Square Murano Sommerso Glass Vase Blue Amber Cased In A Turquoise BlueGggreat Murano / Sommerso Glass Bowl 50,60,70s Looke LookMurano Faceted Red & Amber Sommerso Glass Block BowlVtg Huge Alfredo Barbini Blue Green Gold Ribbed Art Glass Vase Venetian 11.25"Vintage Venetian Murano Twisted Ribbon Art Glass Paperweight 2 Fine Italian Vetro Di Murano Art Glass Bowl & Ornament With Adventurine Murano 1952 Peacock/rust Silver & Gold Aventurine Etruscan Murrine Vase -perfectAvem Murano Glass Italy Tutti Frutti Vase Cased Red 1950s RetroBeautiful Murano Blue Latticino Ribbon Glass Lidded Candy Jar W/ Flower FinialCobalt Rossini Glass Genie Bottle Decanter Italy Empoli Art Glass 56cm Tall4 Arte Italica Medici Neiman Marcus Cobalt Blue 24k Gold 4 Oz Cordial Goblets 5"Magnificent Archimede Seguso Signed Mid-century Murano Italian Glass VaseVintage Murano 24k Gold Elephant Italian Art Glass Sculpture Signed Loue 9" YqzCollectors Signature(signed) Oggetti Murano Art Glass DucksVintage Mid Century Modern Thick Italian Art Glass Bowl/ Ashtray, 1960'sBlue Red Yellow Hot Hand Blown Glass Murano Sculpture Vase -zac GorellVintage Italian Art Glass Millefiori Cane Toothpick HolderVintage Signed Alfredo Barbini Murano Art Glass Aorta Ball Vase For Ogetti WscMurano Glass - Archimede Seguso - Large Early Scottie Dog SculptureVintage Italian Coloured Art Glass Bottle With Stopper Retro Must See PyramidStunning Venetian Glass Girasol Salviati 19th Antique Murano Orange Yellow Hot Hand Blown Glass Murano Signed Sculpture Vase -zac GorellRed Platter Hot Hand Blown Glass Murano Sculpture Wall Platter -zac GorellStunning Vtg Murano Glass Long Stem Flowers -- 19" - 5 FlowersMurano Venetian Art Glass Duck Mallard From La Tour D'argent Paris BeautifulAntique Salviati Venetian Glass Aventurine Gold Dust Tall Candlesticks $1nr!Murano / Sommerso Art Glass Star BowlVintage Pair Mid Century Modernist Murano Art Glass Sculpture Decanter BottlesVintage Rossini Of Italy Hand Blown Decanter In Hobnail Cobalt Blue ~giant~hand Blown Glass Art Lidded Vase~classic Urn~days End~signed~murano,italy~giant~hand Blown Glass Art Wall Bowl~table Platter~days End~signed~murano,italyVintage Murano 24k Gold Elephant Italian Art Glass Sculpture Signed Loue 10" YqzVtg Chinese Jeweled Elephant Pendant 14k Gold Necklace Ruby Emerald SapphireLarge Venetian Murano Perfume Cologne Bottle Gambaro & Poggi Teal & Gold14 Vintage 1950s Murano Glass Clear Crystal Prisms Original Labels Rain DropsVintage Murano Glass Twisted Gold Flecked Red Shell Flame PaperweightHuge Art Glass Archimede Seguso Alabastro Clam Shell Bowl Murano Opaline 50's

Recent News: Murano and Italian Art Glass

Source: Google News

Special camp
The Hindu, May 29th

Situated in Chinthamani Bazaar, the boutique offers a variety of fresh cut flowers and unique flower arrangements, artificial and dry flowers, and a range of object d'art such as scented candles, candle stands, imported Italian glass vases, gift...Read more

FIFA Vote to Go Ahead Despite Corruption Scandal1:57
NEWS.com.au, May 29th

An additional bathroom with Italian glass mosaic tiles and large laundry with ample storage space finish off this level. The home showcases a perfect balance between traditional and classic living. From elegant formal rooms to Hampton style sitting...Read more

The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts celebrates the grand opening of the ...
Travel Daily News International, May 29th

Guests entering the hotel are welcomed by the dazzling sight of a custom-made 30-metre Murano glass chandelier created by De Majo, depicting a waterfall of 180 light cylinders which illuminates the eight-story monumental stairwell. The historical lobby...Read more

The Luxury Collection® Hotels & Resorts Celebrates the Grand Opening of the ...
MarketWatch, May 27th

Guests entering the hotel are welcomed by the dazzling sight of a custom-made 30-metre Murano glass chandelier created by De Majo, depicting a waterfall of 180 light cylinders which illuminates the eight-story monumental stairwell. The historical lobby...Read more

Flower power
Telegraph.co.uk, May 27th

The newly installed panels are the result of a collaboration between the leading Italian glass mosaic company and British home ware brand Designers Guild. Bisazza's communications director Rossella Bisazza and CEO and founder of Designers Guild Tricia ...Read more

Glaze pavilion by Cousins & Cousins designed to resemble a Venetian glass ...
Dezeen, May 20th

Clerkenwell Design Week 2015: Murano glass sweets provided the inspiration for this pavilion by London studio Cousins & Cousins, which features a mixture of coloured and patterned glazing (+ slideshow). Clerkenwell Design Week 2015 pavilion by ...Read more

Creating Judi Harvest's Soft Pillows of Murano Glass
New York Times (blog), May 18th

At her studio within the Linea Ariana glass factory, the American artist Judi Harvest created colorful pillows of beautiful Murano glass for the installation of her 2015 Venice Art Biennale exhibition. Back in 2013 for the Biennale, Harvest created the...Read more

Italian Week: Italian Glass Art
WTNH, May 4th

Watch the video to learn some of the beautiful techniques, colors, and styles. Some of Fabio's art students stop by too! More Information: Fabio's father learned ancient secrets from Venetian monks, later attended Fine Arts Academy in Milan sponsored...Read more