Fratelli Toso: the beginnings
After the fall of the Serenissima in 1797, Venice and all its islands were deeply damaged by the devastating occupation of Napoleone. Murano as well lived through a dark period which lasted until the middle of the 19th century: many glass factories closed down and many glass masters emigrated abroad. In a short time artistic glass-making techniques and culture were forgotten.
It was in this critical period that Fratelli Toso company moved its first steps: in 1854 Pietro Toso's sons Ferdinando, Carlo Nicolò, Liberato, Angelo, Giovanni, Gregorio started up Fratelli Toso glass factory, which was based in the former Scuola Grande San Giovanni dei Battuti.
In that period quality of glass production was quite low all over Murano, mostly made for domestic or pharmaceutical use: bottles for the Carmelite friars' lemon-balm and flasks or smaller bottles for oils and tinctures.
But Toso brothers, thanks to the fundamental help and collaboration offered by Vincenzo Zanetti, worked hard to recover techniques and know-how to reproduce precious masterpieces produced by hand prior the Serenissima fall.
They exercised mostly in the evening, after working hours: slowly they increased their skills and capability of making glass by hand, so much that in 1864 Fratelli Toso, in collaboration with other skilled glassmasters, realized an amazing massive chandelier to be given to the Murano Glass Museum for its inauguration. The chandelier is still at the Glass Museum; Fratelli Toso received their first gold medal thanks to this excellent masterpiece.
This is the reason why Fratelli Toso company is credited with being one of the upholder for the revival of artistic glass-making in Murano. They have been part of a process of artistic renewal which quickly involved all Murano.