design and arts

History of Murano


Murano is an island situated north of Venice. The island is especially known for its glass art.

In 1295, all the glass furnaces of Venice were moved to this island to protect them from fire. Above all, this measure was taken to enshrine the closely guarded secrets of glassmaking. 
The well-paid glassblowers were forbidden to pass on their knowledge and were even threatened with penalty of death in case of giving the secret away.
In the 15th century a patent law came up, whose acknowledgement was not taken for granted amongst the glassmakers.
The glassmaker Giorgio Ballarin stole Angelo Barovier, the inventor of various staining methods and the cristallo, some recipes and disclosed it to his prospective father in law. 
By thus Ballarin became one of the most successful glass manufacturers in Murano. 
In 1441, the glassmakers reformed their statutes, they had had since the 13th century and translated them into their Venetian tongue, the Venetian vernacular. These statutes were called Mariegole.

During the Renaissance, the artistic products of acromatic glass, the Venetian cristallo, became the main source of income for the population.
Only a few pieces are preserved. The variety of shapes and patterns shows mainly the illustration of still life. 
Despite all attempts to keep the technology of glass production and glass processing of Venice secret, some glass blowers of the late 16th and in the 17th century emigrated north, into some countries of the Alps. They established glassworks there. 
Louis XIV was fascinated by the new glass art. He dreamt of a hall of mirrors in Sansoucis. He 'headhunted' the glassblowers and by thus he fulfilled his dream.
As glass 'à la façon de Venise', the Venetian style lived on in Germany, the Netherlands and Flanders, where extensive collections are still preserved.

However, the Venetian supremacy in glass making was not broken until the 18th century, by the success of baroque cut glassware .This technique was mastered in Bohemia and Silesia, and increasingly also in other parts of Germany but not in Venice.