Soffiato Glass of the 1920s

The elegant, transparent glass produced on the island of Murano in the 1920s is often referred to as soffiato, which translates from Italian as blown or, more poetically, breath. Executed in pale or gem-tone colors, these vessels are a synthesis of high Renaissance elegance and reduced modernist simplicity.

First popularized in the early 1920s, soffiato glass was developed by Paolo Venini, his business partner Giacomo Cappellin, and the young Venetian artist Vittorio Zecchin who collectively believed that Murano glass had become too ornamental, and that it no longer appealed to modern taste.

Beginning in 1921, Zecchin designed a wide range of soffiato vessels for Venini which captured the zeitgeist of the new century. Met with both critical and popular success, soffiato became the new standard for Murano glass.

Vittorio Zecchin 1878–1947

Born the son of a Murano glassblower, Vittorio Zecchin would go on to become one of the most influential Venetian artists and designers of the 20th century. Initially working as a painter in the Italian Liberty (Art Nouveau) style, Zecchin’s sensitivity to international art, combined with his love for traditional Venetian craftsmanship and design, would have a lasting influence on 20th century art-glass in Venice and beyond.

After graduating from the Venetian Academy of Fine Arts in 1901, Zecchin initially decided against a career as an artist, believing that the conservative Venetian establishment would not understand or accept his work. Instead he became civil servant in Murano and did not publicly exhibit his paintings until 1908, when a number of young Venetian artists had formed the Ca’ Pessaro group. Zecchin joined the group and by 1914 he had become one of its most influential members.

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Auction Results Vittorio Zecchin