In the summer of 2013, I was fortunate enough to travel to several locations in Italy. My favorite place was Venice. While in Venice, we took a boat to one of the nearby islands that make up the archipelago named Murano. Murano is famous for the production of beautiful glass. I found it fascinating how the techniques and styles have changed over the past few centuries. Let me share how the styles have changed (and some have remained the same) dating from 1500 to today.
Beginning with the oldest in this collection; the Footed Bowl. This bowl uses a technique described as chalcedony glass. This process was invented in the late 1400’s. Its marbled effect was achieved by adding different metallic oxides into the glass mixture before shaping the hot glass into an object.
Moving on to the next piece in the collection is the ever endearing millefiori or “thousand flowers”. The first example, Millefiori Bowl, was created circa 1550. This style uses a small rod or bead like the one following and turns it on its end to reveal the flower. This technique has been used for over 500 years as evidenced by the two paperweights. One is from the 1840’s and the other was created in 2005. You can see the colors have changed but the style has remained the same. I found the millefiori pieces to be mesmerizing and beautifully crafted.
The Iced Chalice is a stunning example of ice glass which is created by putting hot glass into ice water to make it have a crinkled effect. These pieces are rare because they were fragile and often times broke very easily.
Next in this Murano glass collection is the Goblet in opalescent glass with flowers stem. This is a stunning example of how the artist added various elements in the cooling process to give part of the glass a milky look. The intricate work on the stem with the added flowers is exquisite as is the subsequent piece in the collection, Compote in opalescent glass with dolphin stem. The light blue ruffled edges combine beautifully with the golden tones of the dolphin in the stem.
Shifting into the 20th century, Pablo Picasso’s prominent works are paintings using a style called cubism and surrealism. He did however, produce the next piece in the collection, Toro.
The last piece in the collection is an example of many of the glassworks I saw on my visit to Murano. Handsomely designed jars with lids like the stripped jar, Bottiglia a fasce policrome.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about Murano glass and if you ever get a chance, I highly recommend that you go to the little island near Venice and see this impressive art form in person.