Have you ever wanted an aquarium, with lots of tropical fishes in your livingroom? Just to adorn a corner of the room, reproducing a small piece of nature on a fine piece of forniture. Well, having an aquarium in your own home is a symbol ofgood taste and elegance . But, since they are a reproduction of an indeed complex ecosystem, they require constant and expensive cares. For this reason, Murano glass aquariums are an effective solution .
History of the Murano Glass aquarium
Pure transparency given by crystal clear glass, waters rich in detailed fishes and corals, sleek and sober lines, Murano glass aquariums are the result of a refined technique : the aquarium is - in fact - an article already known in the Muranese tradition, which over the years has been reworked and redesigned in shapes and colours.
The first examples of Murano glass aquariums have been designed and manufactured in 1950 by Cenedese glassworks and Alfredo Barbini .
The craftsmanship of Muranese glass masters is evident on the perfect total fusion of glass, the inclusion of realistic air bubbles and colorful creatures: a fleeting moment is crystallized, imprisoned in an astonishing final result.
Designed as solid geometrical forms in which marine animals and plant life have been trapped, these works contain in one artifact different techniques that were often innovative for the time.
In the early 90s Franco Angi, art director at MuranoVitrum, made aquariums more affordable.
With the collaboration of Umberto Ragazzi , Franco created the little bags and goldfish bowls, that in a few years have invaded almost all the specialty shops of Venice.
Later he has designed the faucet aquarium, brought to life by Cristiano Balbi: a small fish enclosed in a drop of water that comes out from a faucet. This funny aquarium is still in production today and is one of the leading articles of MuranoVitrum production.
See Faucets designed by Franco Angi .
See the Aquarium collection .
The Technique & Quality
The first step consists in the preparation of fishes and other elements that are designed by the maestro or the designer; at the beginning, fishes were made in furnace with a size that started from a minimum of 4-5 cm (1.6-2 in.). Nowadays aquariums with miniature tropical fishes created a lume are more common.
In the second phase , the fishes and the various decorations are brought to almost melting point temperature in order to be easily included in the crystal which will contain them permanently.
After resting for several hours in a muffle furnace, in the last phase aquariums are grinded where needed. Aquariums have received an almost immediate public consensus that has grown steadily over time, along with the proposition from varius Murano glass artists.
If you are in Venice, meet Alessandro Zoppi. He is a Venetian expert antiquarian specialized in Murano glass and owns the “Cesana” antiques gallery, focussed on glasswares from XVII to XX century and ornamental pieces of varius ages. There you can find an aquarium created by Barbini in the 50’s.
Mr Zoppi has met the maestro Alfredo Barbini , a rather peculiar man.
In his furnace he personally oversaw all processes of production and roamed over the Piazza - workstations in the glasswork - checking the various operators who prepared the components. If his expert eyes saw imperfections, without saying a word he dropped the glass from the barrel of the poor victim with a snap of his inseparable steel rod.
Thanks to his intransigence, we can now collect works that are coveted because of the high quality glass and workmanship.
If you are lucky enough, you could be one of the few customers allowed to visit Zoppi’s pesonal collection in his palace on the Grand Canal where you can see magnificent glassworks and hear other anecdotes about Murano glass.
While walking in calle Frezzaria or under the arcades of the Procuratie in San Marco Square - the heart of Venice - stop to admire the aquariums on display in our MuranoVitrum stores .
You will see a vast collection of handmade aquariums, among which you can notice some peculiar ones.
Aquariums have a special meaning in a city like Venice. If you have ever paid attention, it looks like a sea creature: when viewed from above, the town looks like a fish in the lagoon lying on its side . Moreover, Venice is built on tiny islands upon the lagoon: the connection with water is very strong.
The relationship with the Venetian thalassocracy and its sea was so important that in the year 1000 a.D. the “Marriage to the Adriatic sea” was created to celebrate the Venetian dominion over the sea and to celebrate the conquest of Dalmatia.
Through this annual ceremony, the city of Venice and the Adriatic sea were symbolically joined in matrimony with the latin phrase « Desponsamus te, mare. In signum veri perpetuique dominii » (We marry you, sea. In the sign of true and everlasting dominion). It was a statement of co-exhistence but also commitment one to another.
The link between Venice, the sea, and its creatures is strong and unbreakable. Murano glass aquariums are a clear testimony and celebration of this important bond. That’s why they are a nice idea for an original souvenir or collectible - rather than the usual gondola.