Pauly & C. - Compagnia Venezia Murano

Pauly & C. - Compagnia Venezia Murano

Pauly & C. | CVM - Compagnia Venezia Murano has represented the history of glass art on Murano for the last 140 years. Its name comes from the fusion that took place in 1919 between Pauly&C, founded in 1902, and the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano, established in 1866. The company also incorporates the prestigious MVM Cappellin brand, purchased back in 1932, and the drawings and back catalogues of the renowned Toso Vetri d’Arte glassworks, acquired in 1990.

Two generations of master glassblowers have trained in its glassworks. Over the years some of them, having learned the art of glassblowing and having developed their own style, have gone on to establish their own glassworks and become prominent figures in Murano glass art, including Barovier, Seguso and Toso.

The origins

The older Compagnia di Venezia e Murano was established in 1866 by the famous British diplomat and archaeologist Austen Henry Layard, the British historian and antiquarian Sir William Drake and the lawyer from Vicenza, Antonio Salviati, who became its director. In the summer of the same year, the company opened its first showroom in London at 431 Oxford Street.

Originally called Salviati &C, in 1872 the company changed its name to the Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company Limited. In 1877 Hanry A.Layard bought out Antonio Salviati, who left the company and founded Salviati dott. Antonio.

Under Antonio Salviati’s management and the initiative of the archaeologist Austen Henry Layard, the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano was the company behind the renaissance of Murano glass art. Investing capital that other glassworks did not have at their disposal, it concentrated on the revival of age-old glass production and decorative methods.

The renaissance of Venetian glass: the “murrine” and other techniques

In his desire to revive long-abandoned techniques, Austen Henry Layard (and the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano) invested large sums of money in research and experimentation, taking on board the best designers and technicians of the era, such as: Luigi Dalla Venezia, Andrea Rioda and Vincenzo Moretti; the best master glassblowers, including Antonio Seguso, Isidoro Seguso, Giovanni Barovier and Giuseppe Barovier; and artistic advisers called from out of town who were specialists in other arts, such as the Roman goldsmiths and antique collector brothers Alessandro and Augusto Castellani, the French painter Giuseppe Devers and the Roman engraver Attilio Spaccarelli.

The artist Giuseppe Devers was employed by the company to teach enamelling and heat-applied glass gilding and it is thanks to him that the art of decorative fused enamels was revived. In 1870 Giuseppe Devers and the master glassblower Antonio Seguso managed to reproduce the so-called “Coppa Barovier” more than 400 years after the original was made. The enamellist Leopoldo Bearzotti was entrusted with its decoration.

However, Austen Henry Layard’s greatest desire was to revive the production technique of Roman and pre-Roman mosaic glass and records from that era speak of a tireless and no longer young Austen Henry Layard spending entire days amongst the smoke of the kilns together with the technicians and the master glassblowers, checking their results and encouraging them in their quest.Success finally arrived in 1872 when Vincenzo Moretti, alongside the brothers Alessandro and Augusto Castellani, revived the ancient technique after almost two thousand years, reproducing the type of Roman glass that would come to be known all over the world as the “murrina”. In 1878 the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano presented the “murrine” at the International Exhibition in Paris”.

Its success was such that the “murrina” became the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano’s most sought-after article and became the symbol of glass production in Venice, being imitated by all other Murano glassworks.

In 1884 the engraver Attilio Spaccarelli created vases using a complex technique consisting of two layers of differently coloured glass carved in relief, in imitation of the Roman cameo glass dating back to the first century BC and the first century AD; these two unique examplars are still conserved at the Murano Glass Museum to this day.

During the same period, the “Compagnia di Venezia e Murano” returned to making “Phoenixes”, the dragon or snake chalices inspired by the seventeenth century, as well as producing “milk”, “filigree” and “opalescent” glass, and it was capable of preparing high-quality glass, such as the “avventurina”, “chalcedony” and “ruby red”, its master glassblowers surpassing their predecessors and making it impossible to distinguish the new production from the old.

Mosaic production

At the end of the nineteenth century, the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano distinguished itself in the field of mosaic work. As well as Vincenzo Moretti’s technical ability in the production of the mosaic paste, the Roman mosaic artist Enrico Podio was also invited to Murano and he was entrusted with managing and running the Palazzo Barbarigo mosaic workshop, the company headquarters.

During this period, the mosaics produced in the workshops of the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano invaded Europe and the USA, with decorative cycles in historical styles which can still be seen both inside and outside palaces and churches.

Examples of the historical artistic importance and ability of the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano in the production of mosaics are still admired all over the world and include: the mosaic in the Gonville and Caius College chapel in Cambridge, created in 1870; the mosaic in the library of the House of Congress in Washington created using cartoons drawn by the American painter Vedder Elihu; the mosaic cycle for the Church of San Paolo Entro Le Mura in Rome, designed by the British artist Edward Burne-Jones and created in 1880; the mosaics created for the Victoria and Albert Museum, for the Albert Memorial in London designed by John R. Clayton and the mosaics of Westminster Cathedral in London; the mosaics designed for the Council House, the mosaics created in 1880 for the Chamberlain Memorial in Birmingham and the complex mosaic cycle at Palazzo Barbarigo (the company headquarters) based on the designs by the artist Giulio Carlini that can still be admired today when crossing the Accademia Bridge from Saint Mark’s.

Of particular historical relevance is the “mosaic” portrait of President Abraham Lincoln, which can be viewed today in the Senate House rooms in the United States, produced by the Compagnia di Murano e Venezia and donated by Antonio Salviati and in 1866.

The micro-mosaic portraits housed in the Glass Museum on Murano are also of major interest, and subjects include Giuseppe Garibaldi, King Vittorio Emanuele II, Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, Antonio Salviati, Abbot Vincenzo Zanetti, the museum founder, and Dante Alighieri. Other portraits are on display in Genoa, in the Renaissance Palazzo Tursi, the City Council headquarters, where portraits of Christopher Columbus and Marco Polo are exhibited, bearing engravings extolling the unity of Italy.

Major exhibitions of the twentieth century

The end of the century was characterised by the birth of major international exhibitions at which the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano was always present, making its name by winning numerous prizes for its work.

In 1867, just a year after its foundation, it took part in the Universal Exhibition in Paris where it showed a vast range of objects in blown glass: glasses, chalices, amphorae, cruets and vases. It won a gold medal, three silver medals and four special mentions for its own works. It was on that occasion that the Prussian government ordered a copy of all the most beautiful glass pieces created by the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano for its Industrial Museum.

In 1871 it took part in the Maritime Exhibition in Naples and the Trieste Exhibition, displaying a large number of classic pieces.

In 1873 the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano and its master glassblowers triumphed at the International Exhibition in Vienna, winning thirteen prizes in the decorative arts sector.

In 1878 at the Universal Exhibition in Paris international recognition arrived thanks to the presentation to the public of the first “murrine”, which in subsequent years would become the symbol of glass art from Murano.

In 1881 at the National Exhibition in Milan the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano exhibited the first glass “phoenixes”. Though created using blown glass, they were imitations of pre-Roman glass that had a friable nucleus.

In 1893 at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, approximately two thousand works were transported from Venice. A kiln was set up on Midway Pleasance to demonstrate to the American public blown glass production techniques. The critics, mesmerised by the quantity of works, described the exhibition of the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano thus: “The works of the Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company on display represent the entire glassblowing history of all peoples and all times”.

In 1895 the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano took part in the first Venice Biennale: exhibiting extremely elaborate pieces in the various sections. In the blown glass section, it exhibited “graffiti” and “phoenixes” by the master glassblower Giovanni Serena and by Isidoro Seguso, and a reliquary by Giovanni Nason. Vincenzo Moretti was awarded a prize for the “murrini” and for the glass paste pieces with which the archaeological models were moulded, whilst the Roman Attilio Spaccarelli earned recognition for his skills as an engraver of cameo vases.

At the Venice Biennale in 1903 the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano fitted out the pressroom and the smoking annexe where glass created by the artist Raffaele Mainella were displayed. The work included blown glass in classic shapes and two chandeliers: one was vaguely oriental, consisting of six cylindrical “cesendello” sconces; the other was similar to the first, with a metallic coronet structure from which multi-shaped globes descended. Both of them garnered enormous success.The early 1900s: the foundation of Pauly &C and the merger with the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano. In 1902, Emilio Pauly, Alessandro Hirscber Hellman, Vittorio Emanuele Toldo and Ernesto Graziadei founded the Pauly&C “works”, which was what the large Venetian showrooms of that epoch were called, in Palazzo Trevisan Cappello near St Mark’s Square, just over Ponte dei Consorzi. The palace was also the company headquarters and remained so until 2007, when it closed for restoration. In 1900 the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano was sold by its British partners (the heirs of the founders) to the Venetian businessman Tosolini, who at the time already owned the prestigious shops in St Mark’s Square that would become and remain the Venetian showrooms of Pauly&C|Compagnia Venezia Murano. In 1909 the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano stopped production on Murano, but maintained its commercial business in the shop showrooms.In 1919 the Società Anonima Sanitaria from Milan bought both Pauly&C and the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano, selling them to the Milanese commendatore Gaetano Ceschina in 1920. He merged them under the new name of Pauly&C|Compagnia Venezia Murano, keeping both the shops in St Mark’s Square and the exhibition space of Palazzo Travisan Cappello, whilst transforming the historic Palazzo Barbarigo into his private residence.

The 1920s: production resumesIn 1925 the Pauly&C|Compagnia Venezia Murano reopened its own glassworks on Murano, in Piazzale della Colonna, just opposite the vaporetto waterbus stops and therefore in a particularly inviting position for tourists. It was a ‘demonstration’ glassworks, but was not overly small and therefore capable of maintaining normal production. In the glassworks delicate blown glass in classic shapes was produced, becoming the emblem of Venetian-ness and luxury in the eyes of its international aristocratic clientele.The company re-established relations with artists and the best master glassblowers of Murano, which it maintains to this day.During those years Guido Balsamo Stella, an internationally renowned artist and engraver, was commissioned by Pauly&C|Compagnia Venezia Murano to design and produce quality works.Pauly&C|Compagnia Venezia Murano established a relationship with the famous artist, designer and interior decorator Umberto Bellotto, with whom they exhibited at the Monza Triennale in 1925.

In 1927, again in Monza, Pauly&C|Compagnia Venezia Murano and Umberto Bellotto had a solo show, exhibiting Art Deco works deriving from Cubism consisting of superimposed spherical or conical shapes, lined with dark threads and adorned with equally contrasting smooth or ribbed handles. The base glass was either in pure crystal or had uniformly positioned bubbles. As well as iron vases with iron and glass structures, which were more representative of his work, Umberto Bellotto also produced more traditional dark blown glass pieces, decorated with smooth or serrated handles.

The 1930s: “new forms”.In the 1920s traditional Murano glass production had been inspired by Art Deco, the French style which had triumphed at the “Expositione Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Moderns” in 1925, but in the 1930s it followed its own creative path, influenced by the Futurist movement and the new essential shapes that were the foundations of the birth of modern design.It was at the beginning of the 1930s that the partnership with the designer, painter and ceramist Flavio Poli began. Together with Pauly&C|Compagnia Venezia Murano, Poli exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1932, presenting three “charming simplifications of blown glass animals” (a tiger, a dolphin and a seagull) and a covered vase having essential lines.Of particular historical significance is the monumental Venetian crystal centrepiece in the shape of an Italian-style garden, produced in 1931 and still owned by Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano, which was used by the Fascist regime and Benito Mussolini during Hitler’s trip to Italy.

In 1933 Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano bought the young but prestigious “MVM Cappellin”, also known as Maestri Vetrai Muranesi, from Giacomo Cappellin.Together with Paolo Venini, who at the time only had administrative duties, in 1921 Giacomo Cappellin founded “Cappellin Venini & C”, which became renowned for innovation and for incorporating designs with a modern twist into the traditional Murano glass-blowing process. In 1925 Cappellin and Venini left the company to establish the new “MVM Cappellin” glassworks, along with the artistic director Vittorio Zecchin and the experienced master glassblowers who had worked with Cappellin since 1921. Of particular importance was Giovanni Seguso, otherwise known as Nane Patare, who was responsible for the entire technical side of both the old and the new company.

With this acquisition, as well as owning the company title and the commercial name, Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano was guaranteed all the rights to future brands, patents, designs, catalogues, correspondence and artistic property, as well as the right to reproduce any model or piece created or adapted by MVM Cappellin and to continue using its factory trademark for those products that would have been produced and finally the ownership of the remaining equipment and furnishings. Regarding the latter, Giacomo Cappellin said that they were transported from the MVM Cappellin headquarters at Palazzo Da Mula to the Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano shops in three goods boats.

The result of this transaction was that Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano also acquired works and unique designs from Vittorio Zecchin and designers who had worked with MVM Cappellin, such as the young and talented Carlo Scarpa.

The post-war period After the war Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano went back to full production and sales.During this period the company made a name for itself in the design and production of large chandeliers for the principal European palaces, such as the 6-metre high chandelier created for the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome; the chandelier for the Vatican Palace, again in Rome; the chandelier for the Royal Palace in Copenhagen and the one for the Hotel Royal Danieli in Venice.

The creation of interior design pieces and lighting on commission has always characterised Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano production and is still of major relevance to the company’s business today.

The 1950s saw the beginning of an association with the master glassblower Anzolo Fuga and a remarkable engraver, Francesco Andolfato, who created modern works for exhibitions and on commission. This relationship lasted until the end of the 1990s, when Francesco Andolfato retired. In his final years with the company, his expertise focused exclusively to the return to classic Venetian production, creating finely executed pieces in delicate blown glass reminiscent of Balsamo Stella’s Art Deco work for Pauyl&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano. During the same period a relationship developed with the master glassblower Alfredo Barbini, considered one of the greatest practitioners on Murano, which would last for the rest of his life. For years Alfredo Barbini furnished Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano with its best collections.

In the early 1960s Alfredo Barbini and the sculptor Napoleone Martinuzzi, who was by now an old man, created exclusive new works in paste for Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano, the only ones signed by the two artists, and new editions of some works by the sculptor from the 1930s.

In 1963 the commendatore Gaetano Ceschina sold the company to the Barbon family, which in 1976 sold it to Andrea Boscaro, who ran it until 2005. In the late 1960s an exclusive relationship developed between Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano and Professor Enzo Scarpa, a painter and designer who would be responsible for the revival of historical designs with a modern twist and of glass sculptures that would successfully characterise the company’s production in subsequent years.In the 1980s, based on a design by Enzo Scarpa, the “Gondola” was created and it would come to represent Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano around the world.

The association with Enzo Scarpa lasted thirty years, until the professor retired in the 1990s. In the 1970s Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano handed over part of its production to the master glassblower Licio Zanetti, who designed and produced elegant glass objects in stylised forms.Continuing the long-standing tradition that saw the company associated with important contemporary artists, in 1971 the painter Libero Vitali designed a unique series of modern sculptures that would be made with great ability by the master glassblower Licio Zanetti.The works were exhibited in two solo exhibitions in 1972 and 1973 and were an important breakthrough on the artistic scene at the time.

The 1980s and 1990s: tradition, design and luxury

In the 1980s glass production in Murano was becoming more industrialised, with numerous glassworks beginning mass production to respond to an increasing demand for cheaper products. In this context Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano remained loyal to its history, continuing to specialise in the luxury sector in order to satisfy an increasingly demanding clientele that demanded history and quality.

Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano was one of a handful of companies on Murano to continue producing classic pieces, proposing modern takes on traditional designs whilst continuing its age-old association with artists and designers in the production of modern artistic works.

In the 1980s, as well as its classic production and association with modern designers and artists, Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano would also revive its interior design activity, producing chandeliers and individual pieces for villas, private residences and public palaces. This remains one of the company’s strong points.

As well as important hotels in Venice and Italy, Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano has also created lighting for the headquarters of Ferruzzi Finanziaria, which owns Montedison, in Ravenna and Paris; the entire illumination of the centuries-old Palazzo Bezzi in Ravenna on occasion of its restoration; the lighting system for the residential neighbourhood of Kuwait City, for the Al Assawi family palace, for which a magnificent six-metre high and four-metre wide “Rezzonico” chandelier with 320 lights was designed and installed in the main salon

In 1990 Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano also bought the Toso Vetri d’Arte glassworks, inheriting important designs and its back catalogue.Between 1996 and 1997 Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano created a collection of objects designed by the Roman architect Franz Prati. As Franz Prati himself has said, the collection originated with the aim of creating works that went against the serial industrial production trend so rampant in those years.

In 1997, an association with the fashion designer Romeo Gigli began on occasion of the “Casa Mantegna” tableware exhibition in Mantua. Pauly&C | Compagnia di Venezia e Murano presented a unique series of magnificent tableware designed by Gigli for the exhibition, which is still produced by the company and sold in the Venice showrooms today.Towards the end of the 1990s the Berlin designer and artist Heinz Oestergaard, the Italian designer Maria Teresa Lorella Gnutti and the Swedish designer Berit Johansson all designed exclusive collections for Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano. Berit Johansson continues to work with the company, designing interior design objects characterised by a bold use of colours, including magnificent chandeliers in natural shapes.

The new millennium

In 2000 Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano produced a series of glass pieces by the Venetian sculptor Livio de Marchi.In 2002 Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano paid tribute to the recently deceased master glassblower Alfredo Barbini by putting on an exhibition. The exhibition, entitled “Voliera”, displayed a limited and exclusive collection of glass sculptures of birds designed by Berit Johansson, Francesco dei Rossi and Norberto Moretti.In 2005 the company began the task of retrieving works that had accumulated over the previous century in its private collection and which had been stored in the rooms and attics of Palazzo Tevisan Cappello, with the aim of returning extremely valuable historic works to the light of day. In the same year, for the first time in its history, Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano opened its private collection to the public and in association with Sotheby’s organised an auction that included works by artists and glassworks, including: Alfredo Barbini, Barovier&Toso, MVM Cappellin, Venini, Cenedese, Napoleone Martinuzzi, Ermanno Nason, Salviati, Seguso, Carlo Scarpa and Vittorio Zecchin.In 2007 Palazzo Tevisan Cappello, the longstanding company headquarters, was closed to the public for important restoration work. The warehouses and administrative offices returned to Murano, whilst the three showrooms in St Mark’s Square remained opened.Currently, Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano production is concentrated on the creation of luxury works and art works characterised by a unique craftsmanship and by the development of relationships with international artists.The company consists of three production lines: classic/traditional with the Pauly-CVM brand; modern art with the Pauly Glass Factory brand; and the work of interior design for villas, private residences and public palaces.At the beginning of 2008 Pauly Glass Factory began an association with the Chinese artist Xiao Fan Ru, who has designed a series of ornamental plants and with the French artist Aristide Najean; their original and exclusive works will be on display at the Pauly Art Gallery in St Mark’s Square in June 2008, along with new works by Berit Johansson.

The museums

Pauly&C|Compagnia di Venezia e Murano works are currently held in many private collections and displayed in some of the world’s most prestigious museums, including:The Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University in California;The Corning Museum of Glass in New YorkThe Museo del Vetro on MuranoThe Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia collection.


During its 140-year history of producing handmade glass works of art, Pauly&C. - Compagnia di Venezia e Murano has served an international client base that includes some of the most prominent names from the world of culture, such as the writers Arthur Conan Doyle and Arrigo Levi, the scientist Guglielmo Marconi or the master of Japanese ikebana Sen’ei Ikenobo; names from the arts, such as the fashion designer Miuccia Prada, the actors Anthony Hopkins and Jack Nicholson, the actress Catherine Deneuve, the singer Elton John, the actor and director Dennis Hopper, the director Federico Fellini and his wife Giulietta Masina; figures from the world of industry and finance, such as the Agnelli Family, the Rockefeller Family, the Pirelli Family and Luca Cordero di Montezemolo; politicians and nobility, including the American presidents Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Belgian Royal Family and the Imperial Russian Family.


* Di Edward Henry Knight. "Reports of the United States Commissioners to the Paris Universal Exposition". Pubblicato nel 1880 da Govt. print. off. Originale disponibile presso la la University of Michigan.
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* Di Mel Byars, Terence Riley. "The Design Encyclopedia" . Pubblicato nel 2004 da Museum of Modern Art, 832 pagine.

External Links

* [ Official Site of Pauly & C. | CVM - Compagnia Venezia Murano]
* [ Official Site of Modern Art Gallery of Pauly Glass Factory]

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