Guido Balsamo Stella

Torino 1882 — Asolo, Treviso 1941

Painter, engraver, and decorator from Torino, the works designed by Guido Balsamo Stella embodied the authentic spirit of Murano:  lightness, transparency, technique, and sensitivity.

After the death of his father in 1896, he moved to Venice with his mother. In just a few years, he was granted an atelier at Ca' Pesaro and attended the Scuola libera del Nudo at the Fine Arts Academy. Trained as an artist in Italy, he started working in Germany and Sweden. In Munich, he associated with the Secessionists and exhibited at the Glasspalast, and in 1909 began attending lessons at the Academy under Welti, a student of Böcklin’s. During the First World War, he lived in Sweden with his wife Anna Akerdahl, and turned his attention to engraving and etching on glass and crystal glass at the Orrefors glassworks. His interest in glass prompted him to visit the factories in Bohemia before returning to Italy, where he began designing blown glass for Barovier & Toso in Murano.

While teaching at the Florence Institute of Art from 1922 to 1925, he opened an artistic glass workshop in Colle Val d'Elsa where he worked with Franz Pelzel. Both moved to Venice in 1925, and one year later, he was engaged by SALIR as art director with Pelzel as his technician. Starting to work with the newly founded Ferro-Toso & C. in 1930, Stella presented his “chemical glass” and blown-glass gazelle (gazelles) and ermellini (minks) at the Monza Triennale. In the last twenty years of his career, he served as the director of numerous Italian trade schools: the State School of Woodworking in Ortisei (1924-1927), the ISIA Institute in Monza (1929-32), and in 1932, the Carmini Art School in Venice, where he taught book decoration.