Martens’ Cheerful Bottle

Listen as curator Tina Oldknow describes Cheerful Bottle, created by Italian glass artist Dino Martens. Trained as a painter, Martens was the artistic director of the Aureliano Toso glassworks on the island of Murano for many years. There, he produced a variety of designs characterized by asymmetrical forms and highly decorated surfaces of striking color combinations and patterns. For many collectors, Martens’ vessels epitomize Italian glass of the 1950s.

Murano, the historic glassmaking island of Venice, has been the principal source of Italian glass in the 20th century. There, glass is made in small, family-run glasshouses, unlike the larger glass factories of northern Europe and the United States. In the 1950s, glassmakers revitalized historic techniques and created new shapes that revolutionized glass design.

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This bottle-shaped vase is blown in zanfirico, which is related to the Renaissance Venetian technique of internal cane decoration known as filigrana, or filigree glass. Technically complex and difficult to execute, this is a virtuoso example of the high quality of mid-century Italian glass.

Gift of Vetreria Artistica Rag. Aureliano Toso.

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