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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A Sense of Nature and History in PortugalHuffington Post, March 1st
Some of the women who had resided here were quite wealthy; no wonder glass cases exhibit Chinese ceramics, Italian glass, dishware with coats of arms, and elaborate perfume bottles. On a more macabre note are skeletal remains, including a skull from ...Read more
Nature's Way Market: After 40 years, it's time for a partylehighvalleylive.com, March 1st
And the majority of the nearly 200 Italian glass jars filled with herbs and spices are still in tact. Celebrating. On April 18, Harder and his wife Linda, will celebrate their 40 years with employees and customers -- some of whom have been there since...Read more
A Taste of Summer Under the High LineNew York Times, February 28th
Yet the palm and orange trees are real, as are the Murano glass sunflower chandeliers. Waiters dress in pastel polo shirts, white pants and sneakers, like deckhands on a yacht. Corny Italian music wafts over the birds of paradise perched in giant vases...Read more
Globetrotters, glass and quiltsThe Virginian-Pilot, February 26th
What does classic Italian glass look like? Ask this guy. Emilio Santini will be the featured visiting artist at the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio this weekend. Check him out at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. today or Saturday, or at 11 a.m. Sunday. Also, an...Read more
Glass industry has etched its mark on Beaver CountyTimesonline.com, February 25th
Glass magnates like Fry also sought out Italian artisans to bring flourish to glass created in western Pennsylvania factories. Murano glass, produced for centuries on the Venetian island of Murano by the world's best in art glassmaking, drew Fry's...Read more
MillerMade™ HoneyThe Dieline (blog), February 24th
"As a holiday gift to our clients, we went about creating a product from scratch under the MillerMade™ brand. The product is raw honey, packaged in imported Italian glass jars. We sourced the jars, sent them to a small apiary in Northern NJ, who then...Read more
Herrin seeking to restore link with sister cityThe Southern, February 21st
Talks are under way to develop an immigration history museum in Herrin that will more precisely define Herrin's Italian identity and preserve valuable items brought over from Italy, including foreign language Bibles, Murano glass, European tools and...Read more
OriginalMuranoGlass.com Going to Launch Spring Sale of Authentic Murano ...PR.com (press release), February 21st
For Murano glass lovers, OriginalMuranoGlass.com is going to offer a variety of eye-catching items at amazing prices via its special Spring Sale. All items are authentic and handcrafted by expert glass artists from the island of Murano...Read more