Italian Contemporary Glass
Italian Art Glass holds a very special place in the historical evolution of glass making in Europe. Much if not all of this can be attributed to the famous island of Murano. Murano glass has been a famous product of the Venetian island for centuries. Located off the shore of Venice, Italy, Murano was a commercial port as far back as the 7th century. By the 10th century it had become a well-known city of trade.
It is believed that glass making in Murano originated from 9th century Rome, with significant Asian and Muslim influences, as Venice was a major trading port. Murano’s reputation as a centre for glass making was born when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire and destruction to the city’s mostly wooden buildings, ordered glass makers to move their foundries to Murano in 1291.
By the 14th century, glassmakers enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state and found their daughters married into Venice’s most affluent families. However glassmakers were not allowed to leave the Republic and disclosure of the secrets of glassmaking to other states was punishable by death. Many craftsmen however took this risk and set up glass in surrounding cities and as far afield as England and the Netherlands.
By the end of the 16th century, three thousand of Murano island's seven thousand inhabitants were involved in some way in the glassmaking industry and the glassmakers enjoyed a near monopoly on quality glassmaking for centuries, developing or refining many technologies. Over the past decades Murano artisans have continued to challenge the world with agressive designs, colours, patterns and intricate manufacturing and processing techniques.