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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Escapes: Roaming Venice with HemingwayPalm Beach Daily News, December 6th
Every shop was different and offered Venetian treasures — carnevale masks, Murano glass and antique cameos. And around every twist in the labyrinthine streets was a courtyard, or a bridge over a canal, and a wrought-iron balcony filled with red geraniums...Read more
Vintage vases were chic, but value now depends on how and where you sellChicago Tribune, December 6th
Their output is often confused with Murano Glass. The studio produced a variety of delicate blown glass, including animals. And it is collected, especially their delicate goblets, today. In 1938, the studio moved to London and surviving paper Bimini...Read more
Lodgings That Will Light Your StayNew York Times (blog), December 5th
Claridge's in London has chosen the designers Dolce & Gabbana to create one inspired by their Italian roots, which has handcrafted Sicilian puppets, hand-painted Italian glass baubles and multicolored lights. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona...Read more
Villa Ravenna Ristorante Italiano offers variety of food, pricesTulsa World, December 5th
Among the decorations are old family photos and a collection of Murano glass vases. White tablecloths and candles make it a nice setting for romantic dinners. "We are always trying to make a few upgrades," Orioli said. "Our next project is to expand...Read more
Five gifts to drink in the holidaysThe Mercury, December 4th
It includes a blend of spices, botanicals, and flowers, a tin full of juniper berries, two Italian glass swing-top bottles, a double mesh fine strainer, and a funnel. Feeling festive? Add the limited-edition Christmas spice blend, which features notes...Read more
Fuel Their Fire Visiting Artist Dan Dailey Brings His Talents to Museum of GlassThe Suburban Times (blog), December 3rd
Dailey worked at the Venini Glass Factory on the island of Murano, Italy as an artist in residence under a Fulbright Fellowship in 1972 and collaborated with Italian glass maestro Lino Tagliapietra in the 1980s, which resulted in blown glass vessels...Read more
5 gifts to drink in the holidaysMain Line, November 27th
By Jessica Yadegaran For Main Line Media News. The Homemade Gin Kit includes a special blend of spices, botanicals, and flowers, a tin full of juniper berries, two Italian glass swing-top bottles, a double mesh fine strainer, and a funnel. View and...Read more
READER SUBMITTED: Mystic Jewelry Store Opens Second Location In ...Hartford Courant, November 17th
Gineva Murano Glass Jewelry, by 2400 Degrees F, launches a new shopping destination for authentic Murano Glass Jewelry at City Place - Concourse Level, 185 Asylum St., Hartford. The Gineva line, created by local designers Christina and Christopher ...Read more