Blown Murrine Vessels
Today vessels composed of blown murrine are often taken for granted, but this technique took nearly two thousand years to perfect. First mastered by members of the Barovier family working for Antonio Salviati at the end of the 19th century, blown murrine were the ultimate expression of a century of experimentation, with Murano glass blowers attempting to equal and surpass everything made before them. Among these masters, Giuseppe Barovier stood out. His command of the blown murine technique brought art glass of the modern era to a new level.
By the 1890s, Murano glassmakers began to realize that they had fallen behind the times and decided to attempt glass made in the Art Nouveau style. This is the moment when Giuseppe Barovier’s vibrant, experimental murine vessels made their debut. Naturalistically rendered flowers, creeping tendrils, branches and leaves suspended in monochrome, sometimes opaque or semitransparent glass spoke to the influence of the international Art Nouveau style. Other companies, especially Fratelli Toso, emulated and became proficient in the blown murrine technique, but seldom equaled the work of the Baroviers. The Mostre dei Fiori show of 1914 (held beneath the arches of the Palazzo Ducale in the Piazza San Marco) was a watershed moment in the history of this style, and Giuseppe himself was present at the show, selling his own work. After the imposed cessation of glass making during World War I, Giuseppe began making murrine vessels on an even more ambitious scale and his work is considered the most important in the history of the technique.