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The Glass Factory

Founded in 1854 by six brothers, Fratelli Toso was one of the first Muranese glass factories to resume business after the nineteenth-century crisis, protagonist of an fundamental process of renovation. In their first decades of activity the production was based mainly on the imitation of the art of the past, with classic and hand-blown glass, but from the early 1900s the glass factory started to include work with murrine, which were massively employed thanks to their great commercial success. Over the years murrina became a real trademark, unmistakable production by Fratelli Toso.

Around 1912 Fratelli Toso collaborated with Swedish artist Hans Stoltenberg Lerche, who produced glassworks strongly influenced by art nouveau, where every piece was designed to be unique, and they were displayed at la Biennale di Venezia in 1912. During the 1910s and 1920s the company had other interesting collaborations with local artists like Umberto Bellotto, Guido Cadorin and Vittorio Zecchin. Along a mass production of classic models, therefore, there was also an artistic production that created unique glassworks displayed in the most important international events. Ermanno Toso took charge of the artistic direction in the late 1920s until the late 1960s. Under his direction, the production went from light and linear hand-blown pieces, typical of the 1920s, to heavier shapes preferred during the 1930s and 1940s, but the company never stopped experimenting with murrine, achieving their best results in the second half of the 1950s.

In 1948 painter Pollio Perelda joined Ermanno Toso in the artistic direction of the company, focusing mainly on its commercial production while Ermanno continued experimenting new designs to present at the exhibitions.

In those years many lines of glasses obtained great commercial success: Nerox, presented for the first time at Venice Biennale in 1952, Millerighe at Venice Biennale 1954. Stellati and Cattedrale vases by Pollio Perelda, and then Kiku, Redentore, Terrazzo, Foglie which are some of the most beautiful murrina designed by Ermanno Toso. Petoni vases, presented for the first time in 1962, are still some of the most valued masterpieces by Fratelli Toso. The experimentation with murrine technique continued until the mid 1960s, especially with Maestri Vittorio Ferro and Licio Zuffi, who were very skilled in their use.

Rosanna was the last brilliant artistic director at Fratelli Toso before the company was divided in 1980s, the only woman who had an important managerial role in the family business. She continued working on murrine with great interest, but she also devoted herself to series more suited for catalogues, in line with the 1970s style.