Designer: Napoleone Martinuzzi

Napoleone Martinuzzi is one of Italy’s most influential Novecento sculptors—his name alone evokes images of remote elegance and archetypal glory. Wright celebrates Martinuzzi's legacy handling more than 70 pieces of glass by the artist and achieving record prices for several of his forms.
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Martinuzzi does not generally invent forms of abstract perfection, but he de-shapes and transfigures objects, vegetables, plants, flowers, animals, figures, which irresistibly drag the observer into a fantastic universe that amazes, disorients and baffles: an authentic triumph of the senses.

Pasquale Gagliardi

Auction Results Napoleone Martinuzzi

Napoleone Martinuzzi at a Glance

He attended the Belle Arti in Venice and was part of the Ca’ Pezzaro Secessionist group where, in 1908, he began to exhibit his sculptures.

From 1921 to 1931, Martinuzzi served as Director of the Murano Museum.

In 1928, Martinuzzi expaned our notions of what Murano glass could be with the development of Pulegoso glass.

After leaving his role as Artistic Director at Venini in 1932, he founded his own firm Zecchin-Martinuzzi with Francesco Zecchin.

The poet Gabriele d’Annunzio was a major contemporary collector of Martinuzzi's work commissioning pieces for his home and mausoleum, Vittoriale degl Italiani, now a foundation open to the public.

Canefora, 1926 by Napoleone Martinuzzi in the Gardone Riviera, Vittoriale degl Italiani

Napoleone Martinuzzi 1892–1977

Born on Murano in 1892, Napoleone Martinuzzi was the son of an accomplished glass blower. He attended the Belle Arti in Venice and was part of the Ca’ Pezzaro Secessionist group where, in 1908, he began to exhibit his sculptures. Over the next decade Martinuzzi exhibited widely in Europe, eventually becoming one of Italy’s most influential Novecento sculptors.

In 1921 he became Director of the Murano Museum and in 1925, the Artistic Director at Venini. Martinuzzi’s bold use of experimental, semi-opaque glass (Pulegoso, Lattimo, Calcedonio) brought a new sculptural materialism to Murano. His use of large-scale forms from classical antiquity executed in vibrant colors set a new standard for Murano glass design.

In 1932 Martinuzzi left Venini to found his own firm, Zecchin-Martinuzzi. While the company only lasted for a few years, its highly refined production had a profound influence on Murano glass for decades to come. Between 1937 and 1947 Martinuzzi once again dedicated himself to sculpture. During the post-war period he returned to glass design and did notable works for several companies including Alberto Seguso’s Arte Vetro, Vetreria Cenedese, Alfredo Barbini and Pauly & C.

But the simple facts of Martinuzzi’s life fail to capture the lasting power of his work—his name alone evokes images of remote elegance and archetypal glory. A lasting tribute to this haute-grandeur can still be seen at the Vittoriale—poet Gabriele D’Annunzio’s lavish home and mausoleum where many of Martinuzzi’s formidable sculptures and monumental glass vessels still reside.

To learn more about a work by Napoleone Martinuzzi in your collection, contact our specialists.
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