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of Murano’s glasshouses were still producing heavily ornate, Victorian inspired glass which seemed old-fashioned and out of date to a public obsessed with Modernism.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.

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