The Soffiato Glass of Vittorio Zecchin
Vittorio Zecchin’s contribution to Italian glass design in the 20th century is profound. Hired as art director of V.S.M. Cappellin Venini e C. in 1921, his initial job was to change the public’s opinion about the very nature of Murano glass; in the early 1920s most of Murano’s glasshouses were still producing heavily ornate, Victorian inspired glass which seemed old-fashioned and out of date to a public obsessed with Modernism.
Drawing inspiration from vessels depicted in paintings from the high renaissance, Zecchin was able to combine powerful shapes from classical antiquity with the elegant functional simplicity of modernism and the result was Soffiato, a fresh take on Murano glass which was met with great enthusiasm by critics and the public alike.
When in 1925 V.S.M. Cappellin Venini e C. split into two companies, Zecchin opted to work for Giacomo Cappellin at his newly formed glass house, MVM Cappellin. However Venini also continued to produce Soffiato glass designed by Zecchin, so today we recognize models produced by both companies during the same period. Recent exhibitions at Stanze del Vetro in Venice along with detailed accompanying catalogs by Marino Barovier have proved invaluable in the positive identification and documentation of this historically significant work.
But the Soffiato glass of Vittorio Zecchin is more than just a stylish Document of the Jazz Age. Even today, with its gem-tone colors and unadorned forms, Soffiato glass continues to feel intimately familiar and contemporary in a deeply satisfying way.