Designed by Paolo Venini just before his untimely death in 1959, this series of semi-transparent Murrine chargers and shallow bowls represent some of his most accomplished work. In this case, a field of red s-type murrines are interrupted by a circular core of clear murrines, which produce the visual effect of negative space. This level of sensitivity towards color and composition demonstrates Paolo Venini’s awareness of abstract painting during the post-war years. His refined knowledge of materials is also evident, especially the potential of murrines as abstract subject matter. Pushing the boundary between art and design, these shallow Murrine vessels represent a high point in postwar Murano glassmaking.

Period photograph, 1950s

Paolo Venini 1895–1959

Paolo Venini was born in Cusano, Italy on January 12, 1895 to a middle class Lombard family. As a young man he studied law in Milan. During the first war he was stationed near Venice where he became fascinated with the glass mosaics and stained glass of St. Mark’s cathedral. After the war he began a law practice but soon came under the influence of Venetian art and antiquities dealer Giacomo Cappellin who convinced the young Venini to join him as a business partner in a new Murano glass enterprise in 1921. Since then it has become almost impossible to discuss the life of Paolo Venini as separate from his company—all the available biographical material about him lacks personal detail and inevitably lists towards the celebrated history of the company. Venini’s biography is, therefore, the story of a man whose literal personality has been subsumed by his professional life and persona.

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Auction Results Paolo Venini