top of page

BAROVIER & TOSO, A whole Century of Master Glass Craftsmen.

A selection of Murrine & Mosaico glass Ercole Barovier
A selection of Murrine & Mosaico glass from 1925-1960 by Ercole Barovier. Image (edited) ©Wright

The history of the Baroviers as renowned glassworkers in the island of Murano dates back to the late 13th century. It is believed the family migrated from Treviso and settled in Murano around 1291, following a law of the Republic which required the concentration and relocation of all glass furnaces to the island of Murano.

Primavera series glass elephant, 1930, Ercole Barovia
Rare 'Primavera Elephant, 1930 Ercole Barovier. Image (edited) ©Wright

Jacobello was the first member of the Baroviers to work glass at the time.

His sons were Anthony and Bartholomew (mentioned in historical documents from 1348 as "Fiolari" (glassmakers). A son of Bartholomew, James, remembered as a master glassmaker and a furnace owner, was the father of Angelo Barovier.

During the European Renaissance era, Angelo Barovier (Venice, circa 1400-1460) was the most notable member of the Baroviers.

In 1455 he was granted exclusive rights by the Venetian Republic, to the production of a unique and intricate glass making technique which he solely developed and called "Clean Glass" known today as Crystal Glass or Venetian Crystal. Angelo Barovier is also believed to have originally developed the glass paste 'Chalcedony'. The Baroviers designed glass for Kings, Queens, Dukes and even the Medici.

Today, Angelo Barovier's surviving works are held in prestigious public institutes and museums worldwide, like the chalice below.

Murano Chalice, Angelo Barovier
Murano Chalice by Angelo Barovier (15thc). Venice Museum of Glass ©Sailko

The Toso family had been well established as glassmakers in Murano since around 1350.

Between 1919 and 1920, a young Ercole Barovier who had studied medicine at university and worked as a radio operator during WWI, joined Vetreria Artistica Barovier & Co as a partner.

Although he did not train formally as a glassworker, he soon rose to prominence through his innovative murrine glass designs and work ethic.

By 1926, he had risen to the position of artistic director for the company.

Ercole Barovier
Ercole Barovier. Artist, Italian (Venice, 1889-1974). Image (edited) ©MuranoNet

In 1930, he produced his critically acclaimed award-winning “Primavera” series.

The Primavera series is characterised by a milky white 'Craquelé' glass with the addition of black or blue pasta 'vitrea' trim and decoration.

Primavera Piccione, 1930, Ercole Barovia
Rare 'Primavera Piccione" 1930. Ercole Barovier for Vetreria Artistica Barovier & C. Image (edited) ©Wright

The Primavera series is a set of opaque colored glass objects and sculptures whose consistency is made to appear like ceramics.

2 Vases from the Primavera series, 1930, Ercole Barovier
2 Vases from 'The Primavera Series" by Ercole Barovier, 1930. Image (edited) ©Wright.

There was a very limited production of this series due to the fact that it is an accidental derivative of glass mixtures and so can never be replicated.

Lattimo glass polar bear, 1933, Ercole Barovier
A rare 'Lattimo Glass Polar Bear with applied gold leaf, 1933, Ercole Barovier. Image (edited) ©Wright

The company became Ferro Toso Vetrerie Artistiche Riunite S.A in 1936 when Vetreria Artistica Barovier merged with Ferro Toso.

They specialised in Crystalline Glass, Mother-of-Pearl Glass, and gold-free Cornelian red Glass.

In 1942, the company was renamed Barovier & Toso with Ercole Barovier at the helm of design and production.

Barovier Toso Factory, Venice 1968
The Barovier & Toso Factory, Venice 1968. Image ©Paolo Monti

During a career spanning over 50 years as the owner, artistic director and head of design, Ercole transformed Barovier & Toso into the elegant glass powerhouse that it is today.

His designs and inventions, often involving extensive processes and various murrine techniques brought numerous international awards and worldwide recognition to the company.

Ercole Barovier, Vetro Mosaico 1930,
Important Vetro Mosaico Murrine Vase 1930, by Ercole Barovier for Artistica Barovier. In 2014, this vase which had a conservative estimate of $15,000 - $20,000 sold for $317,000 + buyer's premium (approx £261,000 +). Image (edited) ©Wright

Among his most coveted designs is the award winning 'Lenti' Glass series.

Ercole Barovier, Lenti Glass
The 'Lenti Glass Series' 1940 by Ercole Barovier. Formed by layers of blue and clear glass, with gold inclusion. Image (edited) ©Wright.

The Lenti is a form of dense thick walled glass (or cased glass) encased in several layers, often incorporating colours and (or) with flecks of gold or silver, usually with a bullicante exterior.

Meaning the interior layer is effectively encased in the exterior repeatedly for a denser looking glass.

Ercole Barovier, Lenti Glass 1940
The 'Lenti Glass Series' 1940 by Ercole Barovier. In colour green , clear glass and with gold inclusion. Image (edited) ©Wright.

Throughout the post war era, Barovier and Toso continued to produce aesthetically pleasing designs.

Barovier & Toso Wall Sconces
Pair Glass Leaf Wall Sconces with gold inclusion 1950s. Barovier & Toso. Image (edited) ©1stDibs

The Glass Tesserae series, a form of glass mosaic popular in roman times was one of the ways the company embraced art in the aftermath of war. The collection re-invented mosaic glass and excited the artistic vigour of a post-war Italy.

Ercole Barovier, vetro Murrine, 1925.
Important 'Vetro Mosaico' vase, 1925, Ercole Barovier for Vetreria Artistica Barovier. In 2016, this vase reached a hammer price of $257,000 + buyer's premium. (approximately £212,000 +). Image (edited) ©Wright

Beginning in the 1950s, along with other notable glass manufacturers like Achimede Seguso, Licio Zanetti, Venini, V. Nason, Barovia & Toso issued limited editions of exquisite glass sculptures inspired by or drawn from designs by famous contemporary and historical artists like Napoleone MartinuzzI, Angelo Barovier (15thc), Ermano Nason and many others.

Angelo Barovier sculptural glass vase
Sculptural Glass Vase with Eyes, 1952, by Angelo Barovier (20thc), Son of Ercole. Image (edited) ©Wright.

Barovier and Toso designed many exquisite glass vessels and sculptures, mesmerising chandeliers, wall sconces, dazzling lighting and numerous luxurious decorative objects.

The combined generational knowledge, skills and science of glassmaking passed down through the millennium is what makes Barovier & Toso the master glass craftsmen they are today.

Ercole Barovier chandelier
©Atelier Kingsley

For information on how to acquire Barovier & Toso glass or lighting,, contact us on or visit us at

33 views0 comments


bottom of page