A period drawing by Tomaso Buzzi illustrating this model

The present lot is perhaps the only example of this model executed in Laguna glass, and is therefore extremely rare.

This vase is part of series of vessels designed by Tomaso Buzzi for the Biennale de Venezia of 1932. At the time, Buzzi had only recently been hired as artistic director of Venini after the sudden departure of Napoleone Martinuzzi. The fact that Buzzi was able to design such a dynamic series of vessels in such a short period of time is remarkable. For the most part, these pieces were executed in Laguna, Alba and Alga —thin-walled, multi-layered, experimental glass of Buzzi’s own invention.

Study for a vase with horse-head application

In the design of this series it is interesting to note that Buzzi made no literal references to the history of Murano glass. Instead he drew inspiration from a wide variety of sources including ancient Etruscan animal-shaped Askoi vessels, ancient metalwork, and Surrealism: double necked vessels, looping handles, motifs of steam, bridges, single and double hearts, pairs of hands, snails, rams, unicorns, birds and even a spiked dog collar and a set of golf clubs. Along with these avant-garde models Buzzi created vessels with very elegant forms inspired by Chinese ceramics (and, undoubtedly, by the sensibilities of the young designer and architect Carlo Scarpa, who worked as Buzzi's assistant during this period).

A few of the models from this series were later added to Venini’s general production, but many, including the Boccia dei cavallini marini, were made in very limited numbers due to the technical difficulty and high cost of their production. The present lot is perhaps the only example of this model executed in Laguna glass, and is therefore extremely rare.

Vases in the Venini showcase at the 5th Milan Triennale, 1933

Tomaso Buzzi 1900–1981

Born in Sondrio in 1900, Tomaso Buzzi became interested in art, design and craftsmanship at an early age. He studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, and soon after graduation began his career designing interiors, creating theatrical stage sets and costumes, and doing graphic design for books and magazines. In 1927, he was one of the original founders of the influential Il Labirinto group along with Paolo Venini, Gio Ponti, Pietro Chiesa, Carla Visconti di Modrone, Emilio Lancia, and others. The aim of Il Labirinto was to “promote modern design for the home”. In 1932 he became art director at Venini, and though his tenure only lasted until 1934, his influence had a lasting impact on the company. From 1930 to 1950 he taught architecture in Milan, and also devoted himself to artistic and functional design, working with lighting, furniture, silver, ceramics and iron. In the 1950s, Buzzi’s tastes moved away from Modernism and back towards Neo-Classicism, his first aesthetic love. By the end of the 1950s he dedicated himself almost entirely to painting, and only occasionally took on private commissions. He died in Rapallo, Genoa, in 1981.

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