What Are Murano Chandeliers?
Chandeliers have been around for hundreds of years, and good chandelier manufacturers have been around for just as long.
Some of the most famous and popular manufacturers have hailed from a small island near Venice called Murano. This island has been famous for its glass manufacturing and glass art for hundreds of years.
There was a point in history where Murano glasses were some of the most coveted items among the rich and wealthy.
The History of Murano
Venetian glass has been famous for more than 1,500 years and has been manufactured in Murano since the 13th century.
The makers were directed by law to move to Murano, and eventually, this island became the hub of all activity.
The law mandated this move because glass factories were prone to catch fire and moving to an island was the best way to keep citizens safe.
The glassmakers here were innovators, and experimented with different techniques over the centuries. Murano was known for glass-making, but it didnâ€™t acquire its reputation for Art Glass that is found in Murano chandeliers until after the 15th century.
During this time, the glass-makers created different kinds of glasses called the cristallo and the lattimo.
Cristallo was almost transparent and was considered the finest glass in the world. Lattimo had a milky colouring that resembled porcelain. These two types of glasses were used to manufacture a wide range of items, from cups and goblets, to mirrors and dishware.
Murano light fixtures were some of the most coveted items during this period. They were known for their intricate designs, the ability to spread light, and attractive colours.
The light fixtures started out as simple lamps before Murano craftsmen mastered their craft, and started to create delicate little pendants and intricate chandeliers.
Venice was an independent state, but also a part of the Byzantine Empire. It enjoyed flourishing trade and benefited greatly from all of the information flowing in from different corners of the world. Â The glass-makers, in particular, benefited from knowledge provided by their Middle Eastern and Egyptian counterparts. These foreign glass-makers had superior skills and knowledge, which the Venetians used to further their craft.
Eventually, the glass-makers developed their own secret formulations and techniques. The combination of secrecy and refined artistry made Murano glass items, very exclusive products that were owned by the elites.
Throughout the 15th and 16th century, Murano was the epicentre of Europeâ€™s glass-making industry. Demand for art glass grew as the wealth of Venetians grew.
The Decline Of Murano Glass Making
Artisans and glass-makers in the rest of Europe grew more skilled in the craft, presenting a tough challenge to the artists in Murano. Eventually, the competition started to have a marked impact on the profitability and popularity of Murano glass.
Cristallo started fading out when George Ravenscroft, an English glass merchant created a clear glass called crystalline. This glass wasnâ€™t stable at first, but after experimenting for three years, he managed to improve it and created lead glass. It contained lead oxide as a stabilizing agent, was less fragile and more transparent than cristillo.
Eventually, Bohemian and Prussian glass-makers came up with new versions of glass and their products grew in popularity throughout Europe. This slow decline in popularity was nothing compared to the death blow Napoleon would strike when he conquered Venice in 1797.
When the Venetian republic came to an end, Murano glass-makers had no support. Heavy tariffs and taxes imposed on glass-makers made this industry unprofitable. Most had to abandon creating beautiful Murano chandeliers and glassware in favour of making beads.
Revival Of Murano Art Glass
The attempts to revive the Murano glass industry in the 1830s were unsuccessful. It wasnâ€™t until Venice became a part of Italy in 1866 that the situation changed for the better again. Several locals played a key role in reviving the industry and reintroducing old Murano glass making techniques.
People like Abbot Vincenzo ZanettiÂ and Antonio Salviati help put Murano back on the map of the glass-making industry. The revival didnâ€™t just involve bringing back old techniques, but also improving them with new knowledge.
The Murano Chandelier
Chandeliers were one of the many glass masterpieces to come from this small island. One of the most recognised names in the business was Giuseppe Briati, who was known for his large, multi-armed chandelier creations. These fixtures would be decorated with delicate, multi-coloured flowers and leaves. He learned the secrets of Bohemian glass-making and refined his craft beyond what his fellow glass-makers in Murano could manage.
Much of his signature style and technique is present in modern Murano chandeliers. They often have multiple arms, floral designs, and garlands. This design concept and glass-making technique is so distinct that it is easy to recognize a chandelier from this region on sight.
What Makes Murano Chandeliers Stand Out?
Bright colours, soft, wavy designs, and floral themes are the key characteristics of Murano chandeliers. Thereâ€™s a distinctly Eastern and Middle Eastern influence in the design with some European flourishes. This combination makes Murano chandeliers stand apart from other lighting options available on the market.
These light fixtures are known for their durability and timeless beauty. Dedicated and highly skilled artisans make these chandeliers at some of the oldest glass-making factories in the region. The distinctive Murano shape and design can add to the beauty of any room. These fixtures fit in well with classical, modern, urban, and even industrial architecture. They can soften the decor of the room with their elegant designs.
One of the most enchanting properties of the Murano chandelier is the way it spreads light. It distributes light better and creates unique reflections that create a beautiful environment in any room. This makes it unique because no other chandelier can quite replicate this effect.
These chandeliers are available in different style and colour combinations. Today, Murano glass-makers experiment with different techniques to create something that would appeal to the modern-day customers. Itâ€™s also why, even after their long history, these fixtures are still considered valuable and appealing in this century.
Murano chandeliers are considered the gold standard when it comes to chandeliers. Their quality and visual appeal makes them stand apart from other options available today. If maintained well, they can last for a lifetime and even appreciate in value after a few decades.