Amulets, princely toys, gifts or tokens of love, the pride of an artisan or glassmaker … glass animals have never been mere ornaments. The ones from Murano have preserved traces of their ancient meanings, which is what beguiled Pierre Rosenberg, a leading collector of these small yet precious objets d’art
The 20th century gave birth to a vast bestiary of glass that derived from virtually every sector of international artisanal production. These glass animals from Murano, whose richness and variety are revealed by the exhibition scheduled in Venice and the accompanying catalogue, are from the Pierre Rosenberg Collection, one of the most extraordinary, technically virtuosic and wide-ranging of its kind, with some wonderful touches of humour.
The increase in the production of glass animals was linked to the growing popularity of small bronze or ceramic zoomorphic sculptures in middle-class homes from the 19th century on. These more or less realistic or extremely stylized “portraits” of animals are, in fact, quite recent in the millenary history of glass, though such objects and ornaments have existed since antiquity.
Besides the factory-produced pieces, the end of the 20th century saw artists working in glass make their contributions to this relatively recent branch of animal sculpture. The Pierre Rosenberg Collection offers some remarkable examples and diverse types of zoomorphic creations, which are all part of this modern “Noah’s Ark” of glass.