Situated North of Venice, in the lagoon, the island of Murano has been known for its blown glass since the middle ages. Attested since 982, the art of glassware took of rapidly in Venice ; during the 8th century, after the fall of Constantinope, a corporation and strict ruling was set up aiming to protect its production from foreign competition.
Thus, in 1295, a decree banned muranais glassmakers from working outside the island and from taking the materials necessary to make the glass outside of Venice, otherwise they would be banished from the corporation. During the 14th century, a dozen of glassmakers, organised into workshops, worked on the island, including Barovier, who was around since 1331.
Its activity essentially turned towards utilitarian production, with the 15th century being a turning point thanks to the “cristallo” invention, also known as crystalline glass, the work of Angelo Barovier. This transparent glass, rid of all the unnecessary elements, and of high quality, was highly sought after throughout Europe. Murano thus took a preponderant place in the glassware field, and produced sophisticated and luxurious objects made for princely courts. It thus became the crucible for most innovations and the rediscovery of antique techniques such as chalcedony glass, lattimo glass, crackled-glass, and filigree glass. As a direct result, this created emulation among other European glassmakers trying to reproduce the Italian techniques. This know-how was spread mainly during the 16th century, by Italian artisans working for other European Manufacturers (the Netherlands, France, England).
The fall of the Venice Republic at the end of the 18th century resulted in a decline in glass activity, until it was revived by great glassmakers such as Lorenzo Radi during the second half of the 19th century. Finally its activity saw a new turning point from the 1920s with the abandonment of historicist styles, resulting in a fruitful growth in contemporary glassware.
Techniques et matériaux des arts. Antonella Fuga. Ed Hazan 2005
Le verre de Murano. Attilia DORIGATO. Citadelles & Mazenod. 2003