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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Alberta Ferretti Limited EditionStyle.com, July 6th
The final exits, in tightly gathered flounces of pure white tulle, were embedded with winking, droplet-shaped crystals that recalled the Murano glass chandelier. Those looks immediately evoked wedding bells, but the truth is that a free-spirited bride...Read more
Festival takes on water and produces sparkleCape Gazette, July 6th
The Lewes Historical Society's Mid-Atlantic Sea Glass and Coastal Arts Festival was held June 27-28, at the Lewes Historic Campus. About 4,500 people attended the weekend event, Saturday was rainy, but didn't deter the crowds; but the sun shined on the ...Read more
The Blue SpellMoneycontrol.com, July 6th
Andyy Home The deep sea Murano glass bowl makes for an elegant accent piece for your dining table. Rs. 10,380. Elementto Belle Chase, part of the Foulards collection, narrates beautiful stories of imaginary far-away kingdoms. Made from vinyl on an ...Read more
Grantham up-bringing inspires original new novelGrantham Journal, July 4th
After studying at Grantham College, Catherine went on to obtain a masters degree in traditional Italian glass making techniques and exhibited a Pointillism installation at the Lowry Gallery in Manchester. She now focuses on her ink drawings and...Read more
Style over bling is all the rage for Shanghai richTelegraph.co.uk, July 3rd
At Lakeville Gallery, a showroom for new luxury residence Lakeville in central Shanghai, ink-and-brush paintings and sculpture-like seats adorn the space. An Italian glass chandelier, costing about $8,000 (£5,240), lights up a $12,000 Brazilian-ebony...Read more
Mosaics for modern timesFinancial Times, July 3rd
Its value is in decoration; it's not a commodity,” says Rossella Bisazza, communications director at Bisazza, the Italian glass mosaic company. This is certainly true of their new collection, a series of floral patterns adapted from fabrics designed by...Read more
An only-in-LA Fourth of July hostess giftLos Angeles Times, June 30th
says Smeraldo, who since 2005 has specialized in creating personalized arrangements in vintage vases sourced online and from estate sales, ranging from 1940s Murano glass to 1970s art pottery. Regular clients include jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth...Read more
The Knoxville Museum of Art hosts Murano Glass Jewelry Trunk Show WednesdayThe Daily Times, June 20th
KNOXVILLE — The Knoxville Museum of Art Gift Shop, 1050 World's Fair Park, Knoxville, will host a Murano Glass Jewelry Trunk Show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday (June 24) with a reception to follow from 5 to 7 p.m. Designer Leslie...Read more