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    

Vtg Mid Century Murano Art Glass Obelisk 19" Tall Pillar Gold Lace Fleck VeniniA Pair Of Tall Exquisite Murano Glass LampsStunning Salviati Venetian Glass Vase 19th Antique Murano Girasol Rare Glass-dog Ercole Barovier Era Venini MartinuzziBeautiful Vintage 1950/60's Murano Space Age Sommerso Art Glass Bowl/vase/decorVenini Murano Art Glass 12" Vase. Hand Blown.Murano Grey Smoke 1975 Sommerso Textural Eliptic Pillow Vase -pristineStunning Vintage Large Italian Empoli Orange Cased Glass Vase...c1960/70'sVenini Murano Glass Signed - Tapio Wirkkala " Bolle - 4Glowing! Uranium 1960s Murano Cenedese Art Glass Ashtray Antonio Da Ros PerfectMassive 1950s Murano Flavio Poli Glowing Uranium Freeform Art Glass Dish SegusoVintage Pair Murano Glass Teardrop Lamps In Cranberry And GoldVintage Murano Art Glass Mosaic Ewer Vase Tall Millefiori Italy FrostedVintage Murano Glass Latticino Italian Art Glass VaseVintage Mid Century Modern Orange Venini Clessidre Incalmo Hour Glass 10 1/4"An Extremely Fine Victorian Art Glass Opaline Opalescent Open Footed SaltSigned Xl Rare World Class Battuto Art Glass Vase Murano Sommerso Venini? StyleAmazing Massive 1960s Murano Sommerso Turquoise Diamond Block Art Glass BowlBarovier & Toso Art Glass Pair Bowls Signed MuranoRare Seguso Murano Art Glass Figurine Amethyst Sommerso Gold Leaf No Reserve!! Vintage Art Glass 9" Pelican Bird Sculpture Murano Venetian Style Figurine YqzMurano Sommerso Abstract Mario Badioli Syle Picasso Art Glass Face Vase 3.8kgFlavio Poli For Seguso Large 12" Sommerso Italian Murano Art Glass Vase 1950'sVenini Murano Glass Pulegoso Bowl Scarpa Martinuzzi Seguso EraSuperb Retro 1960s Murano Flavio Poli Seguso Sommerso Faceted Art Glass VaseVintage Art Glass 12½" Parrot Bird Sculpture Murano Venetian Style Figurine YqzMurano Italian Hollywood Regency Pink And Gold Caged Glass Lamp PairVintage 1960s Murano Barbini? Fish Tank Aquarium Vase Stunning!.Murano Cockerel, RoosterAntique Pr. Opalescent Venetian Glass Blown Candle HoldersAmethyst And Cobalt Blue Murano Sommerso Art Glass Hand Blown Sculpture VaseStunning Sommerso Murano Faceted Hexagonal Glass Vase Red Amber 5.5 InchesItalian Arte Italica Medici Gold Encrusted Water Goblet Set (6) 6 3/8" MintHuge 7kg Murano Sommerso Abstract Mario Badioli Syle Picasso Art Glass SculptureMid Century Murano Flavio Poli Glowing Uranium Freeform Art Glass Dish SegusoPair Vintage - Murano Roosters - 8 1/2" - Multi Color W/ GoldVintage Murano Uranium Glass Turtle Mid Century Italy Art Antonio Da RosMurano Cristalleria Stile D' Arte Crane Egret Art Glass Signed Ann Primrose NorvVintage Arte Italica Medici Crystal Etched Gold Encrusted Wines(6) Italy GobletsVintage Venetian/murano Italy Art Glass Bowl Blue Spiral Swirls Aventurine BowlVintage Murano Glass Large Heavy VaseMurano Faceted Cut Glass W/black & Silver Aventurine Controlled Bubble AshtrayVintage Murano Art Glass Mosaic Bud Vase Fluted Millefiori Kb Italy CuteLarge Vintage Angelo Seguso Blue Sommerso Decanter/bottle Signed 17" Italian ArtLarge Hand Blown Glass Art Bowl/vase Dirwood Italian Murano End Of DayVintage Murano , Venini ,modernist , Bollicine Bowl ,carlos ScarpaHand Blown Glass Art Wall Bowl/table Platter Dirwood Murano Green & Lemon YellowVintage Signed Murano Horse Almost 6" Very DifferentSigned Set 8 Vecchia Murano Glass Goblets Mint Cond. Red Gold No ResVintage Murano , Venini ,modernist , Bollicine Bowl ,carlos ScarpaItalian Murano Glass Of Rabbi Judaica Signed Gianni Toso Figurine2 Vtg Italian Murano Latticino Venetian Art Glass Ducks Gold Flakes In Glass Signed Elio Raffaeli Murano Large Blue Nude Figure Italian Art Glass OggettiSuperb English Threaded (stevens & Williams) Open Salt Dip, Just 1 1/2" TallVtg - Murano Glass Vase - Calla Lily/jack In Pulpit - Green/white/purple 7-1/2"Vintage Hand Blown Studio Apothcary Cased Glass Amber Yellow White ClearSplendid Fish Aquarium Signed" The Glass Studio Of Murano" Venetian ItalyVintage Murano Art Glass Figurines Hand Blown 12.5" ItalyLarge Glass Cockatoo/parrot Figure Signed Murano Tropical Colors Perfect! No ResVintage Murano Millefiori Paperweight Handmade Italian Art Glass

Recent News: Murano and Italian Art Glass

Source: Google News

Highlights From Art Dubai 2015

She did reveal, however, that two of the booth's three Wael Shawky Murano glass marionettes, from his final “Cabaret Crusades” series, had sold for $40,000 each. At Galerie LeLong, sales lagged behind expectations. “Sales have been quiet. We've sold...Read more

Tre by Roberto Rella
TimeOutDubai.com, March 25th

The first floor of the venue to be near completion when we saw the site, the design here includes modernist-looking Murano glass chandeliers, and a black lava table top. On the 49th, you'll find a small bar, the main dining area, a private dining room...Read more

Fantasy footwear for the 2015 Disney princess
The Detroit News, March 24th

(And, yes, it is possible — Q by Pasquale made wearable shoes out of Murano glass in 2010.) The shoes will be available at Saks Fifth Avenue department stores in New York City and Beverly Hills sometime this month, as well as in some of the designers' ...Read more

3 Idyllic Greek Isles That Most Tourists Miss
Condé Nast Traveler, March 24th

The island burns on like a piece of Murano glass. The final day of my trip each year, I sit in a spectacular cove at the foot of a plunging ravine, one flanked by wind-swept olive trees that look like they belong in a Dr. Seuss storybook. In the...Read more

Blessing for the Babies of Walloon
The Queensland Times, March 24th

The family also attended the rededication of the Babies of Walloon statues in Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park. The cast bronze, ceramic and Italian glass mosaic sculpture depicts the sisters playing. The council has also protected The Babies of Walloon ...Read more

Underneath the High Line, Santina Offers a Taste of the Italian Coast
Village Voice (blog), March 24th

a mélange of zucchini, tomatoes, mussels, and crumbles of lamb sausage. In place of formally dressed waiters, servers patrol the room in coral or aquamarine polos and white pants, their smiles glinting in the light of splashy Murano glass chandeliers...Read more

World's Largest Space for Contemporary Glass Art Lets in the Light
Hyperallergic, March 20th

Around 30 haven't been on view before, including Fred Wilson's “To Die Upon a Kiss” (2011), in which inky color gradually fades down the delicate fixtures of a Murano glass chandelier, a reflection on the “slow ebb of life.” In a gallery for...Read more

Fairy-tale footwear worthy of a 2015 Disney princess
Charlotte Observer, March 18th

(And, yes, it is possible - Q by Pasquale made wearable shoes out of Murano glass in 2010.) The shoes will be available at Saks Fifth Avenue department stores in New York City and Beverly Hills sometime in March, as well as in some of the designers...Read more