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Murano Barovier & Toso Venetian Glass Pair of Courtesan Statuettes
The island of Murano, so historically famous for its contribution to the world of glass, was located there due to the fear of fire which could have destroyed the wooden city of Venice. All glassmakers were quite literally ordered away from the city and onto Murano, as far back as circa 1291, where glass work still continues to this day.
It was upon Murano (where left to themselves) that the glassblowers developed levels of skill and technical abilities which are nothing short of genius in terms of working with glass as a medium.
Even by the 14th century,the glassblowing citizens of Murano had become some of the most prominent of all Venetians, with almost Diplomatic Ambassador immunities by the Venetian State, whilst avoiding civil prosecution and with many marrying into the most affluent of families.
Being held with such high esteem and all of the benefits bestowed upon them, the glassblowers were banned from ever leaving the Republic, though of course many did whilst taking their craftsmanship skills along with them, where once resettled were more than just made to feel welcome, for they were quickly employed as far afield as England, the Netherlands and throughout Bohemia.
More than three thousand of the population of Murano were involved in one way or another within the glassmaking industry and all of this achieved before the end of the 16th century and holding onto the monopoly of quality glass for centuries more to come.
The refining of uncountable technical developments took place during these very early years of Murano glass, many of which are still utilised today for they are each without any parallel.
It would have been impossible to produce this important pair of Venetian glass statuary, without a totally new development of the crystal itself.
Glass such as this requires a lower melting temperature and slower solidifying in order to allow more control and the time allowance needed to produce such items from a molten substance, that is glass.
Melting agents in forms of flux, such as high levels of sodium oxide, prevented the glass from solidifying too quickly, which is vitally important when attempting such glass works as these figures, for it allows more time to shape and to craft these pieces as remarkably produced as they are. Other compatible ingredients were also required to be developed by the Murano artisans to make these exceptional glass items.
Arsenic would be added for example, to eliminate air bubbles. Sodium to make the glass opaque and various nitrates too, so as to colour the glass, as well as flecks of pure gold to afford "aventurine" throughout the clear crystal itself.
The predominant colour of turquoise glass upon this pair of statuettes, is an exceptionally difficult colour to produce (with the uniform clarity in which these beautiful examples demonstrate) and can only be achieved by being triple cased with variations of differently applied glass types.
In other words, the under laying core of this colour would have been (and has) formed and fashioned using an opaque pure white glass first and then coated with translucent turquoise glass before then being finally re-cased in pure crystal.
It is only THEN can we see the colour as now presented and the additional wrythen pattern to the lady's costume and her lacy trails of glass to the bottom frill of her dress. None of which could be, or can be, achieved without skillful glass knowledge.
In and back out of the furnace again, the lady figure (for example) would have gone, so as to keep her precisely temperature controlled throughout and during each working process, at the exacting times when an additional feature was added, and when you consider just the different thicknesses of glass as both of these figures display, it is incredibly difficult to keep each of the elements uniform and on axis or without sagging or figure distortion, which is why perhaps these exceptional works of art command such respect today amongst collectors and glassworkers alike.
There is only one factory which would have made figures of this quality & style and that is Barovier & Toso.
The Barovier family can be traced back within Murano glassmaking to circa 1295, not merging with the Toso family of glassworkers until many centuries later, to produce outstanding works of Venetian glass AS ONE very special "Family" combined.
One should also consider the extraordinary fact that Barovier are in "The Guinness Book of Records" as the oldest family of glaziers recorded and also the 5th most ancient firm in the world which still to this day are perhaps second to none.
Just one of these figures is of historical importance and very desirable indeed. Please note, that I have relisted this page at a substantial reduced price, which reflects a damaged repair to the forearm of the gentleman, as is shown. These are still a fine pair of Venetian glass statuettes, and they represent a wise investment at low cost for such items, even for the lady piece alone...
Height of Man: 11 inches Foot diameter: 3.5 inches Height of Lady: 10 inches Widest width: 6 inches Foot diameter: 3.5 inches Postage weight: *4k *Postage discounts are available for this item to overseas (outside of Europe) by request. Thank you
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