Murano Glass of the 1930s
Taking a cue from Carlo Scarpa and his success with the use of opaque glass at MVM Cappellin, other Muranese manufacturers began to produce a diverse range of opaque glass objects in the Novecento style. The sculptor Napoleone Martinuzzi’s works for Venini also proved to be influential, especially his use of large-scale shapes based on ancient Roman examples. Pieces from his own company, Zecchin Martinuzzi, along with pieces from Barovier Seguso Ferro, Fratelli Toso and others tell the story of changing times on Murano and a shift away from the delicate classical elegance of the 1920s toward the more muscular Roman style of the 1930s.
Born on Murano in 1892, Napoleone Martinuzzi was the son of an accomplished glass blower. He attended the Belle Arti in Venice and was part of the Ca’ Pezzaro Secessionist group where, in 1908, he began to exhibit his sculptures. Over the next decade Martinuzzi exhibited widely in Europe, eventually becoming one of Italy’s most influential Novecento sculptors.
In 1921 he became Director of the Murano Museum and in 1925, the Artistic Director at Venini. Martinuzzi’s bold use of experimental, semi-opaque glass (Pulegoso, Lattimo, Calcedonio) brought a new sculptural materialism to Murano. His use of large-scale forms from classical antiquity executed in vibrant colors set a new standard for Murano glass design.
In 1932 Martinuzzi left Venini to found his own firm, Zecchin-Martinuzzi. While the company only lasted for a few years, its highly refined production had a profound influence on Murano glass for decades to come. Between 1937 and 1947 Martinuzzi once again dedicated himself to sculpture. During the post-war period he returned to glass design and did notable works for several companies including Alberto Seguso’s Arte Vetro, Vetreria Cenedese, Alfredo Barbini and Pauly & C.
But the simple facts of Martinuzzi’s life fail to capture the lasting power of his work—his name alone evokes images of remote elegance and archetypal glory. A lasting tribute to this haute-grandeur can still be seen at the Vittoriale—poet Gabriele D’Annunzio’s lavish home and mausoleum where many of Martinuzzi’s formidable sculptures and monumental glass vessels still reside.
Auction Results Napoleone Martinuzzi