In 13th century the art of “fioleri”
(from fiole: phials or bottles) together with mosaics and blown glass becomes
enormously developed and acquires such great importance for the city economy
that it gets subjected to the Court of Justice which safeguards its activity.
In 1291, by order of the Great Council,
to protect the city from the danger of fires originating from the use of
furnaces, all the glass-making activity gets moved to Murano. Only “verixelli”,
or rather small ovens, get authorised to remain, as long as they are at a
certain distance from the houses.
From Murano furnaces there were
produced articles of any kind, extremely refined and most appreciated all over
Europe and so beautiful to be immortalized in the paintings of the great
Angelo Barovier, belonged to one of the most historic
families of the island and in mid 15th century made a thorough
technological revolution in the glass manufacturing that will lead to an
exceptional development in the subsequent centuries: he created a glass purer
than anything similar to rock crystal. The Venetian art of glass-making met
with its maximum splendour in 16th century, the masters of
glass-making were perfecting vitreous materials and elaborating such particular
manual techniques so that these were subjected to a downright activity of
espionage and despite undertaken efforts to prevent the leakage of
manufacturing “secrets”, artisans of the sector got settled in various European
countries installing furnaces for production of glass objects.
The rivalry put the Venetian activity in
crisis that started its decline with the end of the Republic and only in 19th century there were the first signs of
recovery with the institution, in 1861, of “Glass Museum” and an
enclosed school of drawing in Murano.
Antonio Salviati, another important name of the Venetian
glass, created a laboratory of mosaics which embellished splendid buildings
worldwide. Glass technician V. Moretti managed to reproduce in 1871, almost after one
millennium, the “Roman murrine” which from then on started being part of the
artistic repertoire of Murano. The glass art reached a high level of perfection
in 19th century and still today Venice bases its economy on the production of magnificent
glass objects thanks to the original design and refined implementation of
glass-making masters of the great Murano companies: Barovier & Toso,
Nason & Moretti, Seguso, Salviati,
Venini and many others.
Venice continues to produce also magnificent glass
beads which are, after a period of oblivion, having a particular emphasis
in the productive and commercial structure of the city… Many shops scattered in
all areas satisfy both the touristic request and the one of the great designers
that have adopted glass beads in their fashion creations.
The history of glass beads is very
interesting – they were created from the need to imitate the rosary beads
called “paternoster beads” but also from the necessity to emulate precious stones
that all the men had always desired to have to adorn themselves.
On that account, the legend tells that Marco
Polo, returning to the city
from his travels in the East, said how those people particularly loved beads
and suggested to two resourceful glass-makers to reproduce them in glass.
It started like this,
as testifies the reappearance of perforated pipe in 14th century,
necessary for their production, an intense activity of imitation of corals,
shells and precious stones. In a short time the glass beads had become very
sought after in various markets and represented goods to be exchanged with
other products, used even by Christopher Columbus as a gift to the natives.
There were two types of manufacturing
using a narrow glass pipe (solid or with an internal opening): the one
blown using flames (“with lamp”) by artisans actually called “lamp-worked” and
the other one carried out with an instrument similar to a skewer (“on the
spit”) therefore the beads got warmed in a moderately heated oven to round them
up into desired shape.
Amongst the biggest ones (about 1cm) and
elaborated one by one, hand modelled and decorated, we find today: lamp-worked
beads, rose-cut beads, rosary beads, blown-glass beads. Amongst the smallest ones and of identical dimensions
obtained by cutting of a long perforated pipe are the marguerites.
Even murrine, tiny
glass miniatures, floral or geometric, represent one of the most interesting
and happy Venetian specialisations precious for their design and colour.
In imitation of mosaic the glass-makers
started this work in the second half of 19th century reapplying an
ancient technique that imitated certain production of Roman vases obtained by a
stone called “murrha”. It starts
by working in a consequent phase series with “glass pipe”, constituted of
various concentric layers which give, in section, the star motif.
The spreading and knowledge of splendid
manufactured articles was obtained thanks to the Expositions of Art
biennale but above all to manifestation of Ca’ Pesaro,
where in the first years of 20th century artists like Vittorio
Zecchin, Giuseppe Barovier and Brothers Toso brought the art of Murano glass to
the international scene in that style, well-known in Europe as Art Nouveau.
The visit to Glass Museum of
Murano results to be interesting and after an masterly restoration, it
is possible to appreciate it following the history of glass from its origins to
the present day, as per the adopted layout of chronological and stylistic
subdivisions that allow pleasant and better understanding.