If you have been in Piazza San Marco, you know that the square is lined with shops with incredible pieces of Murano Glass. On the opposite end of the square from the basilica San Marco in the pathway everyone walks through from the boat stop Vallaresso. And in this passageway was one of the most prestigious shops, Pauly & C.
It’s auspicious beginnings were the merger in 1919 by of Pauly & C (founded 1902) and the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano (founded 1866). Salviati along with his London backers founded Compagnia di Venezia e Murano in 1866. Salviati who was an accountant from Vicenza is credited with the rebirth of the Murano Glass furnaces after the Austrian rule of Venice.
In fact his house, shown here, was occupied during World War II and used as a Nazi Headquarters. The Salviati company was famous for it’s mosaics which can be found in the House of Parliament in London, Paris Opera House, Albert Memorial, Westminister, St Pauls, and if you happen to be at Stanford University, in California, you can also see the work of Salviati.
The acquisition of MVM Cappellin in 1932 and in 1990 of Toso Vetri d’Arte who brought its collection of designs made the company a giant in the history of Murano Glass.
With each of these mergers, a glass furnace was added along with the maestri who worked in these furnaces. But times changed and the company was bought, sold, merged and no longer owned it’s own furnaces, however the windows in San Marco Square were lined with the most beautiful pieces from Murano.
And I never passed by these beautiful windows without peering in, noting each of the maestro represented, slightly intimidated by the prices and the salesmen. They staged amazing exhibitions, my favorite was back in the late 90s featured Pino Signoretto, with his life like men’s shirts, ties and hats, a result of a collaboration of Pino Signoretto and Livio di Marchi who is famous for his very life like wood sculpturing. Pino perfectly captured Livio’s designs in his glass sculptures.
And always their glass was the best Murano created. In its best years Pauly & C had seventy employees and also owned a furnace on Fondamenta Vetrai in Murano.
In recent years, they added jewelry in the shop on San Marco, jewelry created from Murano Glass Beads since they no longer owned a furnace, jewelry was an attractive low cost addition. This was an interesting twist for me and a vindication, marking the significance that our humble Murano Glass Beads had gained.
The glass crisis, which began around the turn of the century (essentially beginning with the conversion to the Euro in 1999 as we all saw our costs doubled to the buyer) has affected all of Murano and especially Pauly with its debts rising to about 3 Million Euro. In 2017 the Venice courts sanctioned the bankruptcy.
And so closes over a century of Murano Glass history. And this Friday, it is all over with a 1.1 Million Euro opening bid auction. Among the historical pieces are the Cappellin centerpiece which was used in Rome when Benito Mussolini welcomed Hitler in 1938. It has an opening bid price of 639 Thousand Euros.
If you want to see this historical piece before it disappears, it is currently on exhibit an the Le Stanza del Vetro on the Island of San Giorgio and the buyer can’t take it home until the exhibit closes.
Other lots consist of vases, mirrors and with estimates of 30 to 59 thousand Euro.
For more on this you can read the story in the paper of Venice. And for Murano and the story of Glass, it marks a sad closing.
Salviati in the US
The Cantor Museum at Stanford University has the largest exhibit in the US. The Stanfords became friends with Salviati when they visited in the 1880s and commissioned the exterior of the chapel on the Stanford campus to Salviati. Maurizio Camerino and Silvio Salviati donated over 200 pieces of Murano Glass to the museum. Entry is free to all and well worth a visit.