Unique Mosaico Vase

by Ercole Barovier

In recent years, Ercole Barovier’s long career as a prolific designer has become very well known, and his Mosaico vessels in particular are now recognized as masterworks of 20th century design. 

The Mosaico vase presented here is a unique and masterful work from 1925. The technique employed is the earliest incarnation of a visual idea which Ercole would fully explore much later in his career. The spherical form of this vase, along with the applied lip and ring foot, are stylistic conventions which Ercole would often employ in mosaic vases. However, the green-blue-clear tesserae used here have a very particular gear-like structure which creates the striking visual effect of polychromatic machine parts frozen in time.

Mosaico vase c. 1925
Examples from the Rotellati series, 1969 inspired by the early Mosaico vase above

As mentioned, these gear-shaped tesserae would later form the basis of the well-known Rotellati series designed by Ercole in 1970. One of his last designs, Rotellati is also one of his most dynamic. It is interesting to note that the method of construction used for these early tesserae is different—more complex, with a central bubble in each “gear” and interlocking gear edges that absorb negative space—from those used later in the Rotelatti series. This makes sense on a number of levels; early Mosiaco vases were, more or less, individual works of art not intended to be put into production, therefore individual elements like the gear tesserae would need to be simplified in order to be executed in greater numbers.

Beyond the raw technical aspects of its production, the fact that this vase would serve as inspiration for its creator, decades later, is a testament to its lasting power.

Ercole Barovier 1889–1974

The nearly fifty year tenure of Ercole Barovier as artistic director, designer and owner of Barovier & Toso is unprecedented in the history of Murano glass, and the firm’s success stands as a testament to his singular artistic talent and entrepreneurial genius.

Born in 1889 to a Muranese family that could trace its origins back to the 13th century, Barovier did not train as a glassblower but had a great passion for glass and quickly distinguished himself as an innovative designer. He joined Artisti Barovier in 1919 at the age of thirty and found success designing vases in the mosaic technique. In 1930 he produced the critically acclaimed and award-winning Primavera series, the success of which encouraged him to continue his experiments.

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