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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Uno de 50 featured by Treasures in Lewes this Saturday, April 30Cape Gazette, April 29th
It is featured in silver or gold plate and genuine leather some with accents of Murano glass, Swarovski glass, or shell pearls. All Uno de 50 jewelry are nickel free and hypoallergenic with a two-year manufacturer warranty against any defects...Read more
Timeless luxury at Villa LaetitiaShanghai Daily (subscription), April 29th
Anna has used her creativity to create table art, from a line of Anna Fendi wines to assorted tableware in evocative colors crafted from Murano glass. She even created the tableware for a wedding in Japan. When asked about her opinions of China, she...Read more
Blooming Boutique celebrates Mother's Day April 29-30Cape Gazette, April 28th
Trollbeads is an innovative jewelry concept that tells unique stories through interchangeable, artisan-quality beads made of Murano glass, sterling silver, semi-precious stones, and 18kt gold. Through May 8 any Trollbeads purchase of $150 or more, will ...Read more
Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass acquires new objectsFox11online.com, April 28th
Wisconsin artist, Savoie, studied traditional Italian glass techniques and uses them to create goblets inspired by the 16th century. Klumpar is a contemporary glass artist from the Czech Republic who uses casting methods to create solid sculptures...Read more
What To Expect From London's Most High-Tech HotelHaute Living, April 27th
From the outside, you'd probably never guess the modernity that lies within. The historical building exudes an elegance that is perfectly complemented by the contemporary inside. At Eccelston Square Hotel you'll be surrounded by Murano glass...Read more
Laguna teen's history project earns recognitionLos Angeles Times, April 7th
Sophia's website specifically focused on Murano glass making during the Renaissance. Murano is an island chain off the Venetian coast. Sophia was one of 23 students who competed in the individual website junior division category, said Rob Vicario...Read more
Arriva la "Murano glass experience": un viaggio nel cuore dell'artigianato venezianoVeneziaToday, March 31st
Custode di un passato da salvaguardare, divulgare e sostenere con un approccio innovativo, consorzio Promovetro - gestore del marchio Vetro Artistico Murano - presenta questa primavera “The Murano Glass Experience”: prima edizione di un progetto ...Read more
Expert Glassblower Investigates Secrets Of Classic Venetian Murano GlassForbes, February 29th
For their honeymoon, my parents went on a tour of Europe's finest cities. As newlyweds, they bought a whole host of new things for their new marital home, including a beautiful decanter with matching glasses, and some amazingly elegant looking glass ...Read more