Design Masterworks 19 May 2016

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Archimede Seguso

Merletto vase

Vetreria Archimede Seguso
Italy, c. 1954
internally decorated glass with white threads and amethyst details
7 dia x 12 h in (18 x 30 cm)

result: $20,480

estimate: $10,000–15,000

provenance: Sotheby's, Milan, Arti Decorative del Sec. XX, 6 June 1991, Lot 201 | Galerie Downtown, Paris | Colette and Jean-Claude Bester, Paris
literature: Murano '900, Deboni, pg. 216 illustrates similar example Venetian Art Glass: An American Collection 1840-1970, Barovier, pg. 272 illustrates technique Art Glass by Archimede Seguso, Franzoi, pg. 104 illustrates technique

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Graphic Drama

A modern variant of the ancient blown Filigrana technique, the Merletto vessels created by Archimede Seguso in the 1950s are among the most rare and accomplished of all 20th century Murano art glass. Not only are these pieces marvels of technical complexity, they also exhibit an awe-inspiring blend of graphic drama and subtlety of form. Due to the high cost of their production, very few examples were made. Today the Merletto series stands as testament to the creative genius and technical virtuosity of Archimede Seguso.

Other examples from the Merletto series featuring white filigrana with monochromatic details. (Photograph by Fabrizio Veronesi; Period photographs reproduced from Esempi Di Decorazione Moderna di Tutto il Mondo, by Roberto Aloi, 1955, Ulrico Hoepli Editore Milano)

Archimede Seguso 1909-1999

During his long life, Archimede Seguso worked in many of Murano's most important glasshouses, but he would ultimately become famous for owning and operating his own.

At a young age he became an apprentice at the Vetreria Artistica Barovier where his father was a partner. In 1933 he became a founding member and principal master blower of the Barovier Seguso Ferro firm, which would become Seguso Vetri d’Arte in 1937. Here he collaborated extensively with the young designer Flavio Poli and earned a reputation as one of the greatest master blowers on the island.

In 1946 he established his own workshop, Veteria Archimede Seguso, where he served as both designer and master blower, personally executing almost every piece produced there for more than 40 years. During this time he developed many innovative glass designs that employed complex ancient techniques, such as Filligrana and successfully re-imagined them to suit post-war tastes.

Considered by many to be one of the greatest glass blowers of the 20th century, Archimede Seguso’s creativity and technical virtuosity continue to inspire and amaze.