Napoleone Martinuzzi:
from sculpture to glass

This is an international conference which includes many international speakers, dedicated to the Murano born sculptor and glass designer Napoleone Martinuzzi, ahead of the exhibition “Napoleone Martinuzzi. Venini 1925 – 1931” curated by Marino Barovier.

On Wednesday June 5th 2013, the Glass Study Centre at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini organised a symposium on Napoleone Martinuzzi: sculptor, glass designer, friend of Gabriele d’Annunzio and Art Director of the Venini Glassware Company from 1925 to 1931.

The Glass Study Centre is a permanent centre for research on glass, established in 2012 within the Institute of Art History with the support of Pentagram Stiftung. The symposium, which involved the participation of 13 distinguished guest speakers, was organised as part of the activities of LE STANZE DEL VETRO, a joint cultural venture of Fondazione Giorgio Cini and Pentagram Stiftung. The symposium was organised ahead of the exhibition curated by Marino Barovier: “Napoleone Martinuzzi. Venini 1925 – 1931” at LE STANZE DEL VETRO on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore (7th September 2013 – 6th December 2014). Napoleone Martinuzzi was a protagonist of his time in many ways. He was first of all a sculptor, trained in Venice and Rome; he collaborated with architect Angiolo Mazzoni on his most important commissions (from Palermo to Gorizia) and he was featured at the Venice Bienniales in the 1920s and ‘30s. He was a friend of Gabriele d&Annunzio, who commissioned him to make not only sculptures but specialty works of glass for “Vittoriale degli Italiani”. He was also the director of the Glass Museum in Murano from 1922 to 1931. In 1932, together with Francesco Zecchin he founded “Zecchin Martinuzzi Artistic Glass and Mosaics” and, in addition, he completed several monumental sculptures.

Aspects surrounding the professional life of Martinuzzi, some of which remain elusive to this day, have been researched by scholars; i.e., Véronique Ayroles (Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs) and highlight a French contribution in the development of Martinuzzi’s glass production for Venini; Maria Sole Cardulli (Rome, National Gallery of Modern Art) investigated Martinuzzi’s sculpural activity in Rome, while Massimo De Sabbata (Udine, Musei Civici) offered an insight into Martinuzzi’s participation in the Biennales of the time. Silvia Silvestri (University of Turin) investigated Martinuzzi’s appearance in art magazines in the period between the two world wars and Milva Giacomelli (University of Florence) researched the prolific relationship between Martinuzzi and Mazzoni. In the closing morning session, Massimo De Grassi (University of Trieste) focussed on Martinuzzi’s visual sources for his sculptural production.

In the afternoon session, chaired by Nico String (Ca &Foscari University of Venice), the speeches focussed on Martinuzzi and his glass production: Rosa Barovier Mentasti examined the visual sources in his glass production, Valerio Terraroli (University of Verona) illustrated the very important bond between d&Annunzio and Martinuzzi, while Chiara Squarcina (Murano Glass Museum) gave an insight on the period during which Martinuzzi was the director of the Glass Museum in Murano. Matteo Gardonio (Glass Study Centre) introduced Martinuzzi’s glass works for the Berlendis Palace where Martinuzzi lived. Alessandra Tiddia (Rovereto, MART) illustrated Martinuzzi’s glass works made in Bolzano and Miramare; Lucia Mannini (University of Florence) presented Martinuzzi’s glass succulent plants, a particularly peculiar and intriguing glass production.

Glass elements for wall decorations in bubble glass and in mixed zaffiro glass, Napoleone Martinuzzi for V.S.M.Venini & C., around 1930.

Napoleone Martinuzzi, Pulegosi, installation view. Photo: Ettore Bellini. Courtesy: LE STANZE DEL VETRO

Succulent plants in black glass and in red glass paste, Napoleone Martinuzzi for V.S.M. Venini & C., 1929-1930

Napoleone Martinuzzi, Succulent Plants, installation view. Photo: Ettore Bellini. Courtesy: LE STANZE DEL VETRO