Design Masterworks  19 May 2016

Illuminated Jewels

The Golden Era at Fontana Arte

The golden era of Fontana Arte’s production began in 1953 and lasted throughout the decade. During these years, a combination of unique and favorable conditions coalesced: the post-war atmosphere was focused on reconstruction; Securit della Saint Gobain produced thicker plates of glass than ever before; a notable number of artisans and workers and designers were united at Fontana Arte.

Materials and technology were changing and new, innovative forms were the result. Fontana Arte’s masters and designers no longer used “dalle” glass for only tables; lamps too were made of thick glass. Brass also was used in abundance during these years. The metal was softened and shaped by hand to align perfectly with the delicately ground edges of the glass forms. Fontana Arte’s artisanal production highlighted the expertise and craftsmanship in both metalworking and glassmaking techniques.

Max Ingrand was the artistic director at Fontana Arte at this time. He spoke only French and often his directions were left to the translation and vision of the artists such as Guiseppe Raimondi, Vinicio Vianello and Dubé (Duilio Bernabé). Many important designs were produced under Ingrand’s direction.

Lighting designs for Fontana Arte exhibited at Les Salon des Artistes Decorateurs, Paris, 1955. (Exhibition photograph by Jean Collas, Archives Michel Durand. Reproduced from Max Ingrand: Du Verre à la Lumière by Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, 2009, Éditions NORMA; Portrait photograph from the Archives Ingrand. Reproduced from Max Ingrand: Du Verre à la Lumière by Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, 2009, Éditions NORMA)

The present lot comes from the golden era of Fontana Arte’s production. Shaped by hand and gently pulled outward, the brass lyre-shaped base surrounds a central wheel-polished crystal, set like a gemstone between two polished brass mounts.

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