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The Art of Murano Glass

"How can you tell it's Murano?" It's a question I get asked all the time.

After 10 years of buying and selling - I see many many pieces, some of which have Murano labels - so it's by learning shapes, colours and techniques and of course reading and researching as I go. But honestly...It's pretty hard to get it right 100% of the time.

Even though many dealers use "Murano" as a catchall term applied to 20th century art glass  - Post War Murano Glass can be tricky to I.D. Only the very top end - maybe 2% of the total output was signed, and there were dozens of workshops - and so  the massive output was very varied.

Murano, is actually the name of a series of Islands in Northern Italy, near Venice. It is the oldest known producing glass region - thought to be dated back to the 8th Century. There's much to to be talked about regarding pre 20th Century Venetian Glass...But I'll leave that to someone else!

There were several stand out and well known designers (and their factories) on the islands that produced the best quality - and are extremely sought after and fetch very high prices, often starting in the £1,000's. Some of the key names in the mid 20th Century were Dino Martens, Gino Cendese, Alfredo Barbini, Carlo Moretti, Archimede Seguso, Paulo Venini & Ercole Barovier......You would need to be a serious collector and buy from reputable dealers..As even some of these greats didn't sign their work.

If you are interested in Murano Glass - a good place to start is the genuine tourist glass made between the 1940s and 1970s. Even though the output was so varied - the quality can be excellent and often lots of nods to great designers. If your not 100% sure - always look out for wear to the base to avoid reproductions - even if the piece is made in another country...if it has age and you like it - then it has value!

Attributes can often be vivid colours...usually in two shades and bold styles with lots of pulled, stretched lobes to make interesting and creative shapes. Also a technique used almost exclusively by Murano (although was copied later by other countries) was the Sommerso effect. This is the layering of colours in the casing...often beautiful to see these clearly. There are many other styles...the old techniques of using of Milliefiori, Aventurine - in modern shapes. The "Geometric" series from the late 60s and throughout the 70's is very popular and very classy.

Whatever your taste - you can be sure that Murano Art Glass gives you a stylish decorative investment. Although you can pick items up fairly easily from Antique Fairs..they are becoming more collectable and harder to find.

Retropolitan always has a lovely collection of 1950s-70s Murano Glass. You can also find our pieces in Heals. We also have a good selection in The Old Cinema in Chiswick.


These are my favourite books - all with valuable information on Murano Glass.

Miller's 20th Century Glass By Andy McConnell

20th Century Factory Glass by Lesley Jackson

Judith Miller's 20th Century Glass


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