TOMASO BUZZI (1900-1981)
TOMASO BUZZI (1900-1981)

A RARE 'COPPA DELLE MANI', MODEL NO. 3416, 1932-1933

TOMASO BUZZI (1900-1981)
A rare 'Coppa delle Mani', model no. 3416, 1932-1933
Laguna glass with applied gold leaf
executed by Venini & C., Murano, Italia
7 ¼ x 15 ½ in. diameter (18.5 x 39 cm.)
bowl interior acid-etched venini/murano
Private collection, US;
Galleria Marina Barovier, Venice;
Acquired from the above, Italy, circa 1995.
Other examples illustrated:
'I Vetri d'Arte Italiani alla Triennale', Domus, no. 67, July 1933, p. 383;
R. Papini, 'La Quinta Triennale a Milano, Ispezione alle Arti', Emporium, no. 468, December 1933, p. 371 for a period image of the model exhibited at the V Triennale, Milan, 1933;
Vetri Murano Oggi, exh. cat., Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 1981, p. 32, fig. 110;
M. Quesada, H. Ricke, M. E. Tittoni, L'arte del vetro, silice e fuoco, vetri del XIX e XX secolo, Venice, 1992, another example illustrated p. 240, no. 331;
F. Deboni, Venini Glass, Turin, 1996, p. 45 for a period image of the model exhibited at the V Triennale, Milan, 1933, another example illustrated p. 34;
A. Venini Diaz de Santillana, Venini Catalogue Raisonné 1921-1986, Milan, 2000, another example illustrated p. 208, no. 102, the model in the Catalogo Blu p. 239, pl. 27;
M. Barovier, C. Sonego, Tomaso Buzzi alla Venini, exh. cat., Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, 2014, pp. 30-31 for a period image of the model exhibited at the V Triennale, Milan, 1933, this lot illustrated pp. 156-57, 218.
Tomaso Buzzi alla Venini, Stanze del Vetro, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, 14 September 2014 - 15 January 2015.

Another example exhibited, V Milan Triennale, 10 May - 31 October 1933.

Brought to you by

Jeremy Morrison
Jeremy Morrison

Lot Essay

In 1932, with Paolo Venini at the head of the company, Vetri Soffiati Muranesi Venini & C. were renamed Venini & C. Napoleone Martinuzzi and Vittorio Zecchin had just left the firm and to lead the furnace into the future Venini approached the architect Tomaso Buzzi for the central role of artistic director. At the time Buzzi was a popular architect and designer who had successfully exhibited at the IV Monza Triennale in 1930 and his experience as a ceramic designer made him the perfect candidate. Tomaso Buzzi accepted and, together with Paolo Venini, helped prepare the company to exhibit at the XVIII Venice Biennale later that summer in advance of the V Milan Triennale in 1933. At the XVII Biennale of 1932 Venini & C. presented models designed by Carlo Scarpa, who was then occasionally designing for the furnace, whilst Buzzi exhibited La Mano di Atlante (‘Atlas’ hand’) - a mosaic depicting the zodiac signs held by the hand of the mythological figure. The mosaic was but the precursor of a multitude of glass designs of mythological, classical and Etruscan inspiration that Buzzi conceived for Venini.

The first major presentation by Buzzi for the newly established firm, at the Milan Triennale in 1933, featured a vast array of enchanting vessels sumptuously decorated with playful details, all executed using Incamiciato glass and lavishly adorned with gold foil application. The glass technique was then a novelty, developed by Buzzi with Venini’s experienced glass blowers from the experiments Martinuzzi had conducted with cased glass before leaving the firm. To be executed with incamiciato glass, for the occasion Buzzi designed a visual array: kissing birds, bowls of heart-shaped form, pitchers in the shape of fish and elephants, zoomorphic vessels with flower necklaces, cups with ivory glass bows, vases with seahorse, goat and snail-shaped handles and more. At the centre of the showcase, for which Venini was awarded a Grand Prix prize, a Coppa delle Mani dominated the scene. The large centrepiece presented a shallow wide bowl resting on a base formed from two-hands, elegantly modelled complete with bangles and rings. The preparatory drawings Buzzi executed for the model illustrate how the composition for the design evolved from a large bowl resting on an eight-handed base, to four, to the final two-handed version as executed.

Coppa delle Mani encloses a symbolic value emblematic of the act of extending a donation to a greater entity worthy of veneration whilst simultaneously celebrating an abundance of fortune. In its symbolism the fascination the designer had for antique myths, legends and spiritual ideologies is evident. The exquisite craftmanship required to produce the model was incredibly demanding. The incamiciato glass used for the separately-blown bowl, named laguna (lagoon), involved the layering of six different colours of glass (from the interior to the exterior respectively amber, lattimo, red, lattimo, green and amethyst glass) subsequently applied with gold leaf fragmented into a multitude of luminous particles. The bowl was then combined with its hand-shaped base whilst that latter was still malleable so the glass could adapt to its unique curvature. This unavoidably presented yet further difficulties, for the cooling glass of the hands were liable to pull the bowl’s walls together, often irreparably damaging the object. Given the extreme skill required to execute this design only a few examples were ever produced and only three are known to survive today. It is now celebrated as the most iconic of the designs Buzzi executed for Venini & C.

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