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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Decking the Halls – Halloween-StyleVirginia Connection Newspapers, October 22nd
#“Artificial pumpkins are being made now so that they look real,” said Potomac-based designer Linda Kennedy. “For indoor decor, I would suggest Murano glass pumpkins. They are beautiful and look just as appealing at Halloween as they do during the rest ...Read more
When was the last time you had a Gharwali Diwali?Hindustan Times, October 22nd
It is hard to differentiate between Diwali and traffic jams these days. Especially because most of us spend a week before Diwali AND most of the D-Day stuck in them. A car, choc-a-bloc with gifts wrapped in shiny paper, stuck on a road choc-a-bloc with ...Read more
Chef Greg Marchand Impresses at NYCWFF Frenchie DinnerThe Daily Meal, October 21st
Guests shared tables in a small and unique dining room laid out in elegant décor with gold-domed and Murano glass and brass chandeliers. As guests waited for chef Marchand's first entrée, sommelier Paul Chevalier kicked things off by explaining the...Read more
Jean-Michel OthonielArtforum, October 20th
The material is also very appropriate for the setting because there is an important history of Murano glass at Versailles. The splendid mirrors in the Galerie des Glaces were made by craftsmen from Murano, the Venetian island known for its glassblowing ...Read more
Fashion Bloggers Share Their Favorite Autumn Pieces from PANDORA JewelryPR Newswire (press release), October 20th
PANDORA introduced new Murano glass and sparkling pavé charms in warm golden hues this fall, reflecting the yellow tones of the falling leaves. Karen's favorite pieces this season incorporated dark floral and pearls stacked and layered for a vintage...Read more
Murano, Italy, Still Sparkling After 700 YearsNew York Times, October 17th
Despite the fact that vintage Murano glass is avidly sought by museum curators and interior designers around the world, there is a prevailing sense that contemporary Murano has lost some of its mystique; a trip to the island is usually the purview of...Read more
Artist Simon Ma Is A Horse Girl's Best FriendHuffington Post, October 16th
On display until October 19 at the Frost Art Museum in Miami, Ma's latest exhibit, "Heart Water Ink," comprises 70 works of varying media -- from Murano glass to ink calligraphy -- all focused on the horse. At this year's Venice Biennale, he plans to...Read more
Murano Glassmakers Confront National GeographicThe Venice Times, September 26th
When you hear Murano glass, you probably think of artisan glass made in the Venetian island of Murano. According to the American website Novica, there is also Murano Artisans of Brazil. The online retail store in association with National Geographic is ...Read more