Murano and artistic glass.
Venice, in pre-Roman times, represented the area of the Upper Adriatic , the point of arrival of all maritime trade with the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean . Among all the goods arriving from the East , glass enjoyed a prominent role.
Through excavations carried out for the reclamation of historic buildings, housing structures from the Roman era have been found, so it was officially thought that the city of Venice had arisen from the refugees of Roman cities to find escape from the barbarians.
Necklace with antique flowered pearls: classic
Murano artistic glass processing.
Artistic multicolored vase
in Murano glass
From this it can be understood that the Venetian art of glass comes directly from the Roman art of the Upper Adriatic and, in any case, the real development took place in the Middle Ages. The Venetian glassmakers began to practice this art by inheriting the use of sodium glass from the Orientals. This composition is suitable for hot processing and in this they distinguished themselves for their aesthetic taste and the use of multiple colors. The aesthetic ability for Venetians is based on the intuition that glass is an extremely malleable material and therefore suitable for being blown and modeled in an incandescent state, but capable of maintaining the same chromatic characteristics even in the finished product. This differs from the Nordic tradition, which holds that glass is the equivalent of hard stone and therefore that the skill lies in enhancing objects through cutting. The first documents that reach us on Venetian glass art date back to the year 982 AD, the year in which the name of a glass craftsman appears in Venice. After 982 there was confirmation of the existence of other Venetian glassmakers, but in the thirteenth century the predominance was clearly of the Murano artisans. This was due to the fact that the glassworks naturally concentrated on the island of Murano , so much so that in 1291 the State established the destruction of glassworks built in Venice, assigning their historical origin to Murano  .
It is believed that the glass factory originated in Murano around the 10th century [ citation needed ]  , with significant Asian and Arab influences, since Venice was an important trading port. The fame of Murano as a center of glass processing was born when the Republic of Venice , to prevent the fire of the buildings of the city (at the time mostly built of wood), ordered the glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano in 1291 and the first arose in Murano in the province of Venice [citation needed ]
Contrary to other countries where glassworks were located in the production sites of raw materials or fuel, Venice and Murano have always imported all materials such as vitrifying silicon , melting soda and more, from distant places, including wood, fuel up to to the last century, which came from the Istrian and Dalmatian coasts. The true quality of the island of Murano, however, was the man with his experience, who over time has perfected the styles, the quality and the ability to shape the incandescent glass. These glass artists have always been contacted since the Renaissance to bring their skills to the courts and workshops, so much so that they became masters. In fact, for this reason, a glass school was activated in Murano that initiated young people to this profession even if the experience in the glass factory remained unique. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Murano glass was required by the highest social classes in Europe starting with the invention of crystal in about 1450 ; in fact, crystal is a quality of glass that differs and that gives the glass itself some peculiar characteristics due to the same silicon base but to a higher percentage of lead oxide (24%)  , so the products created were particularly refined to satisfy the request of extremely wealthy customers. In the Baroque period the research was transformed through the execution of effect objects such as lattimi, that is compositions based on silicates, tin and lead with a milky white appearance, hence the etymology  , which perfectly matched the furniture of the eighteenth century Venetian even in the decadent era of the Republic of Venice. After the end of the Republic of San Marco in 1797, the rebirth of glass craftsmanship took place in the second half of the nineteenth century and the glassworks that were born elaborated techniques still in use today and that gave rise to contemporary and design glassware  .
Grand Canal of Murano. Medieval Basilica of San Donato in Murano
The category of Murano glassmakers soon became the most prominent on the island: in fact, from the 14th century the glassmakers were allowed to wear swords, they enjoyed immunity from legal proceedings by the Venetian state and their daughters were allowed to marry with the wealthiest families of Venice. However, the glassmakers were never allowed to leave the Republic. Many artisans took the risk of setting up processing kilns in surrounding towns or in distant countries such as England and the Netherlands . At the end of the 16th century , three thousand of the seven thousand inhabitants of the island of Murano were involved in some way in the glass sector. For several centuries, the glassmakers of Murano maintained a monopoly on the quality of glass, on the development or improvement of techniques, including those of crystalline glass, enameled glass, glass with gold threads ( avventurina ), multicolored glass (millefiori ), milk glass (lattimo) and precious stones imitated in glass. Today, Murano artisans are still using these centuries-old techniques in every process: from contemporary glass art to Murano glass figurines, to chandeliers and wine corks. At the beginning of the 21st century Murano remains the seat of a large number of factories and studios-workshops of individual artists who create all sorts of glass objects for both mass marketing and original sculptures.