Ercole Barovier

Jim Oliveira

The nearly fifty year tenure of Ercole Barovier as Artistic Director, designer and owner of Barovier & Toso is unprecedented in the history of Murano glass, and the firm’s success stands as a testament to his singular artistic talent and entrepreneurial genius. While perhaps not as well-known as his contemporaries at Venini, Barovier’s work stands among the greatest art glass ever produced on Murano.



In 1889, Ercole Barovier was born into a Muranese family with a history of glassblowing dating back to the 15th century. His uncle, Giuseppe and father, Benvenuto, revolutionized glassmaking on Murano with Artisti Barovier, the first company to regularly employ artists from outside the island. Barovier joined the company in 1919 at the age of 30; he was not trained as a glassblower but had great passion for the glass and quickly distinguished himself as a designer. Building on the work of his father and uncle, he designed brilliantly colored mosaic vases of lasting artistic merit inspired by the Secessionist painter Gustav Klimt.

In the 1920s Ercole Barovier designed a series of animals in the Art Deco style which Gio Ponti later named, "Ballet of the Wild Beasts". These figures were met with great success and were widely copied. During this period Barovier’s genius for experimentation with glass first becomes evident, culminating in 1929 with the Primavera series.

Produced for the Venice Biennale of 1930, Primavera was a radical departure from all that came before it. The series included vases, bowls, lidded vessels, candlesticks and animal figures, all executed in an experimental, milky white glass composed of webs of tiny bubbles and thread-like craquelures. The startling appearance of the glass was made even more dramatic by the addition of contrasting details in deep amethyst and cobalt blue. Primavera was the first in a series of daring and experimental designs that would prove to be both critically and financially successful. Due to the complex and experimental nature of the glass, it was never reproduced and is, therefore, extremely rare.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Barovier’s interest in technical experimentation continued with several important series including Crepesculo, a thick-walled glass with thread-like metallic inclusions, and Gemmata (Autumno, Marina and Laguna), which are of similar design but with areas of unmelted pigment as coloration. These series came as a great shock when presented at the Biennale of 1936 as thinly blown vessels had previously been the norm.



The same year Ercole Barovier merged his company with another, now becoming Ferro Toso Barovier, which in 1939 became Barovier Toso & C. During this period, Barovier continued with a number of clear, thick-walled and highly textured series of vessels, including: Rostrato, Mugnoni, Lenti, Medusa and Gross Costolature. In 1940, Rugdioso, A Rilievi, and finally, the Oriente series were produced bringing color and layered transparency back into Barovier’s stylistic vocabulary. This trend would continue after the war years culminating in his polychromatic masterworks of the 1950s and 1960s.

Ercole Barovier 1889–1974

The nearly fifty year tenure of Ercole Barovier as artistic director, designer and owner of Barovier & Toso is unprecedented in the history of Murano glass, and the firm’s success stands as a testament to his singular artistic talent and entrepreneurial genius.

Born in 1889 to a Muranese family that could trace its origins back to the 13th century, Barovier did not train as a glassblower but had a great passion for glass and quickly distinguished himself as an innovative designer. He joined Artisti Barovier in 1919 at the age of thirty and found success designing vases in the mosaic technique. In 1930 he produced the critically acclaimed and award-winning Primavera series, the success of which encouraged him to continue his experiments.

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Auction Results Ercole Barovier

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Murrine vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Murrine vase
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $317,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Important Primavera vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Important Primavera vase
estimate: $250,000–350,000
result: $293,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Important Mosaico vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Important Mosaico vase
estimate: $150,000–200,000
result: $257,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Vaso Mosaico | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Vaso Mosaico
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $245,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Vaso mosaico | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Vaso mosaico
estimate: $25,000–35,000
result: $149,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Mosaico vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Mosaico vase
estimate: $100,000–150,000
result: $102,500

ERCOLE BAROVIER, monumental Rostrati vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

monumental Rostrati vase
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $100,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Vetro Mosaico vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Vetro Mosaico vase
estimate: $70,000–90,000
result: $93,750

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Rare Intarsio vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Rare Intarsio vase
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $87,500

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Laguna Gemmata vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Laguna Gemmata vase
estimate: $9,000–12,000
result: $81,250

ERCOLE BAROVIER, monumental Intarsio vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

monumental Intarsio vase
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $75,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, prototype Tessere vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

prototype Tessere vase
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $69,850

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Intarsio vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Intarsio vase
estimate: $8,000–10,000
result: $65,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Intarsio vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Intarsio vase
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $62,500

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Vetro Mosaico vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Vetro Mosaico vase
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $55,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Rare Intarsio vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Rare Intarsio vase
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $55,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Intarsio vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Intarsio vase
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $52,500

ERCOLE BAROVIER, monumental Spuma di Mare vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

monumental Spuma di Mare vase
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $50,800

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Intarsio vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Intarsio vase
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $50,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, A Lenti vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

A Lenti vase
estimate: $9,000–12,000
result: $50,000

ERCOLE BAROVIER, A Lenti vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

A Lenti vase
estimate: $9,000–12,000
result: $47,500

ERCOLE BAROVIER, A Lenti vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

A Lenti vase
estimate: $9,000–12,000
result: $47,500

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Medusa vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Medusa vase
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $46,250

ERCOLE BAROVIER, Unique and Important Tessere vase | Wright20.com

Ercole Barovier

Unique and Important Tessere vase
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $45,000