Napoleone Martinuzzi

Murano, Venice 1892 — Venice 1977

Sculptor, designer, and businessman, Napoleone Martinuzzi was the father of one of the most revolutionary materials of Novecento glass: pulegoso.

A descendant of a family of Murano master glassmakers, he studied sculpture at the Fine Arts Academy in Venice and Rome. He took part in exhibitions on the Secessionist movement at Ca’ Pesaro from 1908 to 1920. Entering into a partnership with Paolo Venini years later, Vetri Soffiati Muranesi Venini & C. was founded in 1925 with Martinuzzi as partner and art director. His unique style was due in part to his experience as a sculptor. In 1928, he exploited a defect in fabrication, the formation of air bubbles, and transformed the glass into a spongy, compact, opaque mass. This was the birth of pulegoso glass. Following the liquidation of Vetri Soffiati Muranesi Venini in 1932, Martinuzzi set up a new company with Francesco Zecchin, availing of the services of two master glassmakers: Otello Nason and Alfredo Barbini. The furnace was distinguished by the production of models and the use of materials far from classical tradition. Martinuzzi was greeted with considerable acclaim from public and critics alike, and took part in as many as thirteen editions of the Venice Biennale (1920-1950), the Monza Triennale (1930), and the Milan Triennale (1933).

Martinuzzi left the company in 1936 to concentrate on sculpture, and after a long interruption, in 1947 he was appointed art director of Alberto Seguso’s Arte del vetro glassworks. He designed lamps and glass tiles for Gino Cenedese until 1958, and from the 1960s to the ‘80s designed a number of wares produced by Barbini.