Category Archives: Murano Glass History

Highlights Of The Murano Glass Museum

The Murano Glass Museum is a major tourist attraction on Venetian island of Murano, and one that uniquely represents the rich history of glassmaking present on the small Venetian island. Many tourists wish to visit the museum, and rightly so, as the large venue houses historical artifacts and beautiful displays that are unique to Murano.

There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions open to tourists, and those who purchase tickets are granted admission to the majority of the museum, including any special or seasonal shows. The museum was renovated recently, and the building itself is almost as beautiful as the treasures kept within it. Below, we detail some of the highlights of the Murano Glass Museum, that stand out amongst all of the stunning exhibitions.

Murano Glass Museum Permanent Exposition

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Murano Glass Making Techniques: Bullicante

The quality and tradition that characterize Murano’s finest glass furnaces have always been worthy of the highest appreciation. This prestige is due mostly to the glass masters’ hard work and dedication, which are the very core of Murano’s most famous trade. Glassmaking has been passed on from one generation to the next one, with constant innovations and timeless originality. The loyalty and respect with which this trade is treated is possibly the key to Murano’s success. Glass masters all over the island have always worked with endless vitality, and this creative vein is evident in every glass artwork that comes out of any furnace, with improved techniques and bewildering effects.

Always ahead of his time and anticipating any trend, Archimede Seguso was the perfect example of Murano’s best talent. Knowing how to interpret the world around him and always renewing and perfecting his production techniques, Seguso came up with one of the most astounding and marvelous of innovations, the bullicante technique.

Murano Glass Masters symbol - Peacock

The “bullicante” effect is amongst the most famous glass making techniques and it is seen quite often around the island of Murano. If you’ve had the fortune of strolling along the streets of Venice, you would have noticed beautiful glass pieces with small air bubbles trapped in the inside, possibly stopping to wonder how that seemingly impossible effect is achieved. This peculiar effect is obtained by placing a piece of molten glass inside a metallic mold with spikes, very much resembling a pineapple’s texture. These spikes cause small holes on the surface creating a pattern all around the glass piece. After it’s been left to cool down for a few moments, the whole piece is submerged in molten glass again. This second layer completely covers the first one. However, thanks to the thick consistency of glass, the holes previously impressed on the first layer are not covered, thus causing air to be trapped between both layers of glass. This process can be repeated several times, creating a pattern as complicated as the glass master wishes. This technique gives not only a sense of depth to the whole object, but also an incomparable decorative effect, famous for its originality.

Murano Glass Bullicante Vase from GlassOfVenice

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Murano Glass Making Techniques: Filigrana, Reticello, Zanfirico and More

The glass production in Venice represents one of the most important and influencing factors of the city’s economy, and it is no secret that the best glass furnaces reside in Murano. When walking through the streets of Murano, it is almost impossible to name and enumerate all the intricate and complex techniques used in the production of these artworks. And if we were to enter a furnace and listen to the craftsmen talk, we would probably simply hear confusing words such as filigrana, retortoli, reticello, or spirale, without even knowing which technique is which. Every technique, tool, shape and type of glass has its name, quite distinct, and part of the glass masters’ vocabulary since almost a thousand years ago.

The most ancient piece of evidence documenting the existence of glass artworks dates back to the year 982, and thanks to this document, in 1982 the world celebrated a thousand years of Venetian glass artworks. Many other historic documents testify the work of furnaces along the Rio dei Vetrai river in Murano, where one can still find the finest and oldest furnaces in the city. In order to keep the industry’s secrets and glass masters from leaving, the Republic of Venice came up with several acknowledgements and distinctions to those who would create the finest and most creative of glass works. The Republic also protected some of the most important discoveries and innovations of those times, such as the “filigrana a retortoli” and “filigrana a reticello” that became famous around the sixteenth century.
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Murano Glass Making Techniques: Sommerso

Glass making can be one of the most complex and mesmerizing crafts in the world. Since ancient times, glass has always enthralled people with its intricate forms and beautiful translucent colors. To achieve this, glass masters have worked tirelessly to develop and improve various techniques that have been passed from one generation to the other throughout the years.

When thinking of Murano glass, it is highly unlikely that we think of sand, yet this rare material is at the base of all glass production. Glass is firstly a mix of siliceous sand, soda, lime and potassium, which is put to melt inside an oven at a temperature of around 2,700 Fahrenheit. After it has become flexible enough, it is removed with a pipe that will be used to blow the glass out while the glassmaker shapes and models it. The forms and colors given to each piece depend on the tools and chemicals used during its production. The techniques are also important; since they define the way minerals will react when they come in contact with glass and the chromatic effects they will leave on each piece. The first glass works with relevant artistic techniques can be dated back to the Roman period, in which raw materials such as sea shells, ashes and sand were used in its fabrication. Nowadays, the glass masters of the Mediterranean have refined and improved each technique, mixing it with delicate craftsmanship and impeccable Italian style.

Murano Art Glass Angel Fish - Sommerso Swirls

Murano Art Glass Angel Fish – Sommerso Swirls

One of the most common techniques is “Sommerso”, which in Italian literally means “submerged”. This technique is used to create several layers of glass (usually with different contrasting colors) inside a single object, giving the illusion of “immersed” colors that lay on top of each other without mixing. This is done by uniting different layers of glass through heat and repeatedly immersing them in pots of molten colored glass. This technique is quite recognizable: it is characterized by an outer layer of colorless glass and thick layers of colored glass inside it, as if a big drop of color had been captured inside the transparent glass. When one first sees these objects, it seems almost impossible to conceive such beautiful colors being locked so perfectly inside what would seem solid glass, and then undoubtedly one begins to wonder how ever did they manage to achieve such a complex game of shapes and colors right in the middle of a clear glass object.
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The Great Murano Glass Masters: Fratelli Toso

Murano glassmaking history is filled with extraordinary stories of success and innovation. While some glass masters’ stories may be more recent than others, they have all been characterized by clever inventiveness and dazzling dexterity. Among the most famous families of glass masters in Murano we find Fratelli Toso, with over 150 years of experience in the field. Theirs is a story of true Italian innovation and solid family bonds that have endured some of the industry’s most challenging times, proving to be tougher and stronger with the passing of time.

Fratelli Toso Murano Glass Label

In a period of doom and detriment that damaged Venice and its surrounding islands, the Toso represented Murano’s spark of hope after Napoleon’s fatal occupation. It was the end of the 18th century, and Murano glass furnaces started to close, while some artisans preferred to simply flee the island. During this period of darkness and gloom, Murano’s ancient glassmaking techniques and traditions were gradually forgotten. Nonetheless, the Toso’s first steps in the glassmaking industry represented a confident recovery for Murano and its factories.
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The Great Murano Glass Masters: Carlo Moretti

When talking of the great glass masters of Murano one does not necessarily need to go hundreds of years back in history. We need only look a few decades back to find some of the most ingenious and innovative minds behind this craft. Amongst them we find Carlo Moretti, a company established no more than 60 years ago, and that has proven to be a true pioneer and innovator in the history of Murano glass.

Created in 1958 in Murano by brothers Carlo and Giovanni Moretti, this company stands as one of a kind in the city’s vast history of glassmakers. Carlo Moretti gathers the excellence of Italian design, hundreds of years of Venetian tradition and immense entrepreneurial courage. The firm, born out of love and admiration for glassmaking, takes inspiration from the Venetian Lagoon and its beautiful colors. It is the very same city that acts as constant inspiration in each and every one of their designs, reflecting its movements, colors and vibrations through glass. Carlo Moretti is one of the few remaining artisan factories (fabbrica d’autore) in Murano. This means each piece that comes out of their furnaces does not only bare a serial number, but also a huge research background and customization. Collecting Moretti artworks means being fully aware of owning one of a kind pieces produced in limited editions, authentic and with masterful know-how.

Carlo Moretti Murano Showroom
Carlo Moretti Murano Showroom

A lover of classical music, traveling and architecture, Carlo Moretti was a true Venetian. Born in Murano in 1934, he studied to become a lawyer but would soon change course after discovering his passion for Murano glass. Fully dedicating his time and perseverance to glassmaking, he founded Carlo Moretti along with his brother, Giovanni, in 1958. Being the glass lover he was, Carlo took full control of the creative side of the company, looking over the design and production process at all times. Suddenly gaining recognition, he was honored with multiple awards and conference requests, sharing his passion and experience with the rest of the world. It was his love for different cultures and constant learning that gave him a keen eye for innovation. His time spent traveling and visiting uncountable museums around the world gave him an ample vision in classic and contemporary design, opening his mind to new and unforeseen trends in the glassmaking industry. Moretti’s passing in 2008, coinciding with the brand’s 50th anniversary, left his brother Giovanni at the front of the company, along with a personal style never to be forgotten.
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The Great Murano Glass Masters: Salviati

With famous admiration for the beautiful Venetian island of Murano and an ongoing interest for innovation, the Salviati family have traced their own and quite important path in the history of Murano glassmakers. It has never been said that in order to belong to Murano’s coveted family of glass artists one needs to be born into one, and Salviati has proven this to be right. With a past in mosaic production and an incomparable sense of pioneering, this family brought a twist to the established rules and traditions of the glassmaking industry.
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The Great Murano Glass Masters: Gino Cenedese

Weaving together almost one hundred years of tradition and a unique sensitivity, the Gino Cenedese & Son glassworks is one of Murano’s finest and oldest glass companies. With a vocation for excellence and the love for traditional craftsmanship, the glass masters of this furnace have interpreted Venetian history through color and form, accomplishing global acclaim. The Cenedese Murano Glass is world-famous not only because of their indisputable quality and talent, but also because out of many Murano Glass companies, this is probably the one with the widest range of collections and variations.

The story of Cenedese fame begins in 1916 with a small 9-year-old boy, Gino Cenedese, who learned the most essential glassmaking techniques from different masters around Murano. By the end of the second World War in 1946, he founded the Gino Cenedese & C. glassworks, which immediately gained international recognition thanks to the high quality and refined style engraved in every piece. Although Cenedese opened this glass factory with important partners by his side (Angelo Tosi, Alfredo Barbini, Gino Fort and Pietro Scaramal), he was left as its sole owner by 1949, taking the factory through the twentieth century with vision and commitment.
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The Great Murano Glass Masters: Barovier Family

Barovier name is synonymous with Murano Glass. Over the centuries various members of Barovier family have been leaders, innovators, and vigorous promoters of Murano Glass art. Barovier & Toso is an Italian glass-making company, one of Murano’s most ancient families in the craft, and yet one whose style transcends time and whose quality has been consistently held in high regard for centuries. Nominated as the world’s longest established family of glass workers, and one of the world’s oldest continuously operating family businesses, for almost a thousand years Barovier’s family business has maintained keen interest in culture, constant innovation and drive for perfection.

The Venetian glass-making tradition – of which the Barovier family has been a frequent leader – is the very core of this family’s unique creations; it is the starting point of the Barovier history. The first known records of Barovier family members working as glass masters on Murano date back to 1324, specifically mentioning Jacobello Barovier and his sons Antonio Barovier and Bartolomeo Barovier. The descendants of Viviano Barovier and Jacobo Barovier who lived and worked on Murano island in the 14th century gave rise to the more famous Barovier family members who became well known during Renaissance. Continue reading

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Murano Glass Museum: the History Behind the Art

Nothing ever seems real in Venice: its beauty, its history, its art. That same feeling expands all the way over to the Island of Murano, a small island near Venice, easily reachable by vaporetto. Murano is just as rich in beauty and art; it offers the warmth and cheer one usually expects to find in small Italian towns. This island, however, possesses a very special spot that sets the place apart: Fondamenta Giustinian 8, Murano’s Glass Museum.

The palace, Palazzo Giustinian, originally built in Gothic style, was used as a residence for the bishops of Torcello, and was later acquired by the Bishop Marco Giustinian in 1659. The bishop brought many changes to the property, refurnishing and redecorating it with rich frescoes and paintings by Francesco Zugno and Francesco Zanchi.

The museum’s biggest treasure is its vast Murano Glass collection that keeps expanding thanks to constant addition of contemporary pieces. Gathering such a unique collection in one place would not have been possible without the initiative of Antonio Colleoni, then the mayor of Murano. Working together with Abbot Zanetti, Murano Glass and art enthusiast, they set out to gather and systematize Murano Glass archives detailing the history of the craft through the ages. In 1861 Colleoni opened the palace’s doors as a glass museum for the first time in 1861. It was in the grand salon where it all started – the history, the archive, the unveiling of this long forgotten art – later expanding to every room in the museum.
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