The Great Murano Glass Masters: Archimede Seguso

Vetreria Seguso
Murano Glass is an art, and like any other art form it has its famous geniuses, the real artists who had talent, vision, and persistence to move it forward. In the thousand years of its existence, Murano Glass evolved from the humble beginnings of crammed Murano Island workshops of the middle ages to the international fame it enjoys today. Many famous Murano Glass artists brought about this evolution, but one of the top names and the real revolutionary in the conservative world of Murano Glass was Archimede Seguso.

Have you ever found yourself gazing at the gorgeous window displays of numerous Murano Glass stores in Venice amazed at the infinite possibilities of colors and forms, and wondering about the masters behind them? Lots of Murano Glass artisans work on the Island today and many family workshops have been proudly making Murano Glass for generations, yet none is as famous as Seguso. Behind Seguso label, lays one of Venice’s most marvelous and dazzling stories. This family name conceals secrets to masterful skills, inimitable talent and transcendent works of art.

It all started with Archimede Seguso, born on the island of Murano, in 1909.Shy, brilliant and quite distinguished, Archimede Seguso was a man of intellect, yet at the same time, he used the art of glass making to express himself. Never following any model or predefined idea, Seguso would come up with different methods and techniques never seen before in glass making. It was this boldness mixed with his genius that positioned him as a reference point for other artists and artisans.

With a rather solid history in Murano, the Seguso family had lived and worked on this Venetian island for over 650 years, gaining popularity throughout time for their special glass making methods. They were considered experts thanks to their glass blowing technique, and young Archimede became familiar with the business at the very tender age of 11. He was put to work alongside experienced masters who taught him complex skills, and by the age of 17 he became a master and a partner in the furnace he worked in.

The Soffieria Barovier Seguso & Ferro became Seguso Vetri d’Arte in 1933, marking great progress and innovations in the glass making industry, thanks as well to the collaboration of artistic directors Flavio Poli and Vittorio Zecchin. With the creative help of Poli and Zecchin, Seguso started concentrating on his love for massive sculpture, no easy fit due to the special skills and abilities required in creating and handling heavy glass. His interest in art through Murano Glass got him nothing less than a righteous place in the post-war Venice Biennale.

By 1946, Archimede had achieved total freedom and maturity in the artistic field, and therefore decided to open his own workshop, Vetreria Seguso Archimede. This new atelier would see his new creations flourish and thrive: his delicate “filigrane”, the famous “piume” and “merletti”, his vases and his countless chandeliers. It was in this atelier that Seguso became one of the finest Venetian glassblowers in the world.

Seguso started conquering the world with his highly demanded glass chandeliers. He decorated cinemas, churches and theatres with beautiful exquisite Murano Glass. He also experimented with a new technique called “Sommerso”, which means “submerged”, and with this he created the most extravagant pieces mixing colors in different orders and arranging them one on top of the other. Then came his vases full of little “merletti”, or rather small floating color threads which defied traditional designs by being set inside the glass rather than on top, thus creating a web-like design similar to filigree. Archimede’s vases were also famous for their geometric Losanghe designs.

Seguso changed the industry of glass making with his bold and courageous inventions, full of creativity and elegance. He became known for his wide collection of animal figurines made of Alabastro Glass, Millefiori Glass, or featuring gold leaf decoration. Archimede dared defy and improve ancient glassmaking traditions by using incandescent glass and creating each piece by blowing into iron canes. He was a genius when it came to regulating colors and nuances by the thickness of the glass, and mixing materials and tools to create mind-blowing masterpieces. He managed tools and old techniques so well he created textures and illusions like no one else before him. He mixed gold dust and created “golden ivory”, “amber green spots” and “golden coral” works. No need to wonder why Murano Glass collectors all over the world covet his pieces at any cost. His secrets and know-how were shared with his sons when the eldest one, Gino Seguso, joined the atelier in 1959, followed by Giampaolo Seguso in 1964. This gave Archimede time to redirect his love of art to massive sculptures, taking them to exhibitions all around the world, from Palazzo Grassi in Venice to Tiffany & Co. in New York.

Archimede Seguso Label
During the last years of his life, his focus turned to color, exploring the multitude of color nuances and the infinite possibilities of combining color and light, specifically he created a series of his famous “Fenice” (or Phenix) vases referring to the tragic Venetian fire. His long years of research and innovation were passed on to his family, who cherish and keep alive his numerous secrets and masterful techniques. Archimede Seguso peacefully passed away in 1999, leaving a rich and strong legacy behind him. People close to him remember him the way he was: a tranquil man sitting by the furnace, happy and contented with his great life. The artworks and knowledge he left behind are proof of his bold ideas of beauty, creativity and functionality.Nowadays his grandson Antonio, who now runs the Vetreria Artistica Archimede Seguso, continues to honor his grandfather’s virtuous talents while also owning the whole company’s glass collection. Archimede’s love for Murano Glass is also kept alive thanks to the many craftsmen who incorporate his very essence into every piece they make: the creativity, the boldness, the grace, and the elegance. From the Venice Biennale, to the Triennale in Milan, to the Palazzo Ducale and the Murano Glass Museum, his artworks can still be appreciated by many. Churches, theaters and museums proudly preserve his memory – full of intricate chandeliers and vases – documenting a piece of Murano’s history and bewildering the world with it. It’s no surprise that historian Giuseppe Kappa named Archimede Seguso the “living encyclopedia of glass”.
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21 thoughts on “The Great Murano Glass Masters: Archimede Seguso

  1. John L. Pitts

    I purchased a glass vase made by Seguso, about 18 inches tall, purple/black with clear glass circles incorporated, tapered at the top in the late 1990s in Venice, and had a book case designed just to display that piece. Unfortunately, it was stolen last week-end from my living room in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I do not have the receipt, but would appreciate if you could tell me if I can replace it and how much it would cost (current value).

    Reply
    1. GlassOfVenice Post author

      Hi John, we are sorry to hear that your Seguso Murano Glass vase was stolen. It is a valuable object indeed and is hard to replace because of course, each one is unique. Your best bet may be to browse special sites selling antique art glass such as 1stdibs, RubyLane, or auction sites. Do a search in Google images for Murano Glass Vase Seguso and add the color(s) of your vase in the search to see who may be selling similar vases. Just be careful about the origin – make sure the Seguso vase you see for sale is really Seguso. Good luck!

      Reply
  2. Georgann

    I have a glass bowl with 5 birds that are inserted into the top sides of the bowl and can be removed. Each Of the stems appear to be dipped in gold and the base on the insert also has gold. The birds are different colors. I have had this for 30 years. How do I know if it is an original?

    Reply
    1. GlassOfVenice Post author

      Hello,
      if this was purchased in Venice or Murano 30 years ago it is most likely authentic Murano Glass, as there were really almost no counterfeits in those pre-globalization years in Italy. Otherwise, you can see if there are any stickers or labels on the bowl or the birds, if there are gold specks within the glass itself (usually a sign of Murano workmanship), and whether you can see signs of hand-made craftsmanship (typically there would be a pontil mark at the bottom center of the bowl). This type of bowls with birds on sticks that go into the holes on the bowl are still made on Murano and are very popular to this day.

      Reply
  3. Cindy glazier

    Hello I bought two small trinket dishes with gold flecks. They both have original labels
    That are numbered. Says seguso Murano Italy and the labels are red and white square shape.
    I’ve searched and searched using various key words and can’t find more info. Would you be will to look st a couple pics and perhaps help me out? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. GlassOfVenice Post author

      Hi Cindy, sure, please send us the photos to support@glassofvenice.com and we’ll take a look. If your labels say Seguso that is the ultimate proof that the objects were made by Seguso Murano Glass factory. there are various Murano Glass labels collections online or you can do a search for words “Seguso Murano label” on Google images and see if you can find something similar to your labels.

      Reply
  4. Geoffrey Robbins

    I purchased a chande34li1er 1in 2003 in Venice. It is signed by
    Archimede Seguso has the the letters LN 1134.
    At the time I paid about 1400euros. It is blown glass with
    gold flakes infused in the glass.

    Reply
  5. Patz Turner

    Giampaolo Seguso read me a poem, and helped me make a vase in his glass factory, what a guy! His son Giamluca’s wife is a great chef who taught me to make true Venice pasta. If you have the opportunity, buy a piece, it’s not tourist glass, it’s 650 years of family business. What a piece of history!

    Reply
  6. Peter kohl

    Hello
    How can I send you pictures of a archemide seguso Vase I purchase more than 30 years ago in Venice.
    I have never seen the same design again and hope that you might know something about it .
    Best
    Petet

    Reply
    1. GlassOfVenice Post author

      Hi Peter, sure you can send the photo of your Murano vase to us but as we are very busy with our day-to-day operations, thus it may take us a while to get back to you. You can actually try to research this yourself by searching Google Images for various related words (such as, for example, “Murano Glass Seguso vase tall red” or “Archimede Seguso vase 1970’s green sommerso”) and see if you can find a piece that is similar to yours.

      Reply
  7. Terri

    Hello
    I have a beverage set with the A.S. Murano label on it. I have looked and researched but still can’t find this particular label. Is it a genuine label/murano piece? I’ve tried attaching two photos but it won’t let me.

    Reply
  8. Linda

    Hello,
    I have a vase with a signature of Arhimede Seguso on the bottom. I read on the internet that it did not mean he made it. That it was just the name of the place he worked and owned. Like when something has the name Microsoft it does not mean Bill Gates created the item. I bought the vase in Venice and I assumed he made it.

    Reply
    1. GlassOfVenice Post author

      Hi Linda, what you read is correct. Archimede Seguso was a designer and had a company named after himself. The Archimede Seguso signature means that the piece was produced by that company, but it is impossible to tell which particular master executed it. Many Archimede Seguso pieces were designed by Archimede himself but made by other masters, including his son Gino Seguso and his grandson, Antonio Seguso. We hope this provides some clarity.
      Regards,
      GlassOfVenice

      Reply
  9. keith garnett

    hi all I have a large vase 13″ in the shape of a plant with a frog and a couple of bugs crawling up the stem. on the base is says archimede seguso Murano 1/1.
    any idea on price, are how old

    Reply
  10. Ans Vaessen

    Hi

    I have a torso of Archimede Saguso.

    Can you tell me something more about this. It is the only torso of him. I can find nothing about this torso.. He has made this for someone? I can send some phot’s

    Greetings

    Reply
    1. GlassOfVenice Post author

      Hi, Arhimede Seguso did make women’s torso sculptures, there are a number of them in existence and sometimes they show up at various specialized online auctions. You can research Archimede Seguso torsos online to learn more about the one you have.

      Reply
  11. keith garnett

    hi all I have a large vase in the shape of a plant with a frog and a couple of bugs crowling up the stem. on the base is says archimede seguso Murano 1/1.

    Reply
  12. Pat

    I have a large bird weighing almost four pounds I believe to be the work of Seguso Archimede . I bought it at a estate sale and the woman was in her nineties. It was a gift to her husband who was a minster . Any help you can give me will be appreciated. Pat

    Reply
  13. Pat

    I have a large bird weighing almost four pounds I believe to be done by Archimede Seguso. I purchased it at estate sale and the woman was in her nineties and this was a gift to her husband who was a minster. Any help ypu can give me would be appreciated. Pat

    Reply

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