A glass act – Important Italian Glass auction returns to Wright

From magnificent Murano to midcentury expressionism – the Chicago sale is set to put a glint in the collector’s eye

Geltrude vase by painter Dino Martens for Aureliano Toso (1954), estimate $30,000-$40,000
Geltrude vase by painter Dino Martens for Aureliano Toso (1954), estimate $30,000-$40,000

Postwar Italian design is increasingly attracting collectors, particularly the colourfully alluring work created by Venetian glass artists. Now, one of the most significant private collections of postwar Italian glass will be showcased at Wright’s New York from May 9 to 23 ahead of an auction at its Chicago saleroom on Wednesday May 23.

Con Macchie vase by Fulvio Bianconi for Venini (1950), estimate $90,000-$120,000
Con Macchie vase by Fulvio Bianconi for Venini (1950), estimate $90,000-$120,000
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This is not the first time Wright has held an Important Italian Glass auction, but it is a rare opportunity to snap up important pieces. “It’s the finest collection of postwar Italian glass to ever hit the market,” says president Richard Wright. “The auction features many standout works that are exciting to handle, and come from a private Chicago collection that was built with care over many years.” The sale is an historical resume of innovative Italian glass design from the 1950s to 1960s, and features more than 100 works capturing the bold colours and strong expressionist patterns that defined the era.  

La Sentinella di Venezia vase by Thomas Stearns for Venini (1962), $300,000-$500,000
La Sentinella di Venezia vase by Thomas Stearns for Venini (1962), $300,000-$500,000
Intarsio vase by Ercole Barovier for Barovier & Toso (1962), $30,000-$40,000
Intarsio vase by Ercole Barovier for Barovier & Toso (1962), $30,000-$40,000

The rarest lot is La Sentinella di Venezia (estimate $300,000-$500,000), a tall, painterly piece by Thomas Stearns of which only one other variant exists. The American artist worked with Venini’s master blowers from 1960 to 1962 and this eye-catcher was conceived as an homage to his experience on the island of Murano.

A Murrine Opache plate by Carlo Scarpa for Venini (1962), $40,000-$60,000
A Murrine Opache plate by Carlo Scarpa for Venini (1962), $40,000-$60,000
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Further highlights include Fulvio Bianconi’s Con Macchie vase ($90,000-$120,000) for Venini, along with a selection of renowned works by the handmade Murano glassworks: including Pezzati ($3,000-$35,000), Spichhi ($3,000-$20,000) and Fosci ($3,000-$30,000).  

Notable among a number of complex, geometrically patterned designs by Ercole Barovier for Barovier & Toso is a monumental Intarsio vase ($30,000-$40,000), while compelling pieces by Dino Martens for Aureliano Toso include the highly collectable coloured, hourglass-shaped Oriente Geltrude vase ($30,000-$40,000), the undulating Sirventese vase ($50,000-$70,000) and several desirable pieces from the Eldorado series, including a pitcher ($30,000-$50,000) and ewer with handle ($50,000-$70,000). It’s a covetable cache that will appeal to fans of both glassware and postwar design alike.

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