A Union of Iron and Glass

Umberto Bellotto and Vetreria Artistica Barovier

This Connubio Ferro e Vetro, or union of iron and glass, represents the collaboration of two Venetian masters—Umberto Bellotto and Artistica Barovier—coming together at the height of their artistic powers and influence. The end result is this stunning work, an elegant expression of late Art Nouveau style.

Interestingly, when these Connubio Ferro e Vetro pieces were first presented they were eyed suspiciously by Italian critics who believed that the two materials were incompatible. However, their opinions quickly changed and the critics began describing these pieces as “the blessed union of glass and iron”.

By the 1920s Bellotto was fabricating elegant stands designed to elevate and support refined glass objects, examples of which are rarely seen today. In the present lot we see a Mosaico bowl executed in vibrant colors perched atop a complex and elegant wrought iron stand. The overall impression is of a vessel composed of leaves, flowers and vines offered up to the sky. 

Vetreria Artistica Barovier

Over its long history the Barovier company has had many names and incarnations; it began in 1878 as Fratelli Barovier, changing shortly thereafter to Artisti Barovier, and then becoming Artistica Barovier immediately after the war, in 1919. During this early period the Barovier brothers, Benvenuto and Giuseppe, were at the forefront of an artistic revival of Venetian glass which sought to recapture the technical and artistic glory of the past, while creating radically new designs and techniques. This culminated in a series of murrine vessels of exceptional beauty and technical virtuosity. 

Along with the murine vessels, a wide range of other exquisite works were designed during this period, many of which derived their shapes from classical antiquity but were executed in vibrant colors and experimental materials. Collaboration with other notable Venetian firms and designers also took place in the 1920s including a series of important murrine vessels and bowls presented on elegant wrought iron stands in the Byzantine and Art Nouveau styles by artist and master iron worker Umberto Bellotto.

Lots 36-39 are exquisite examples of the high level of innovation and  craftsmanship taking place at Artistica Barovier between 1920 and 1930.

Additional Works by Vetreria Artistica Barovier

Vetreria Artistica Barovier and Umberto Bellotto

Born in Venice in 1882, Umberto Bellotto was the son of a blacksmith. By 1903 he had already distinguished himself as a master ironworker, creating the celebrated railings for the café/restaurant at the Venice Biennale. In the 1910’s he made a name for himself collaborating with other craft workshops to produce furniture, fabrics, leather, glass and other objects for fine interiors. By 1914, Bellotto’s rising fame as a master craftsman and designer was beginning to reach its zenith when he opened his own gallery and presented hand-crafted wrought objects which clearly existed in the realm of fine art. In 1920 he participated in the Venice Biennale, exhibiting original works combining iron with leather, glass and ceramic. Between 1925 and 1927 he designed imaginative works of glass composed of geometric and industrial shapes highlighted by dark contrasting details—a stylistic innovation that become a permanent convention in the Murano glass oeuvre. In 1928 he was called to Rome by the minister of public works and was assigned to major architectural projects. He died in Venice in 1940.

Today with a knowledgeable guide, it is possible to encounter signs, lanterns, chandeliers, door handles, mounts, hinges, and even entire staircases executed by Bellotto, hidden in plain sight throughout Venice and the Veneto.