Chiara and Francesco Carraro

Pierre Rosenberg
de l’Académie française
Président-directeur honoraire du Louvre
Président de l’Alliance française de Venise

I have an indelible memory of the home of Chiara and Francesco Carraro: a lovely apartment that takes up the entire floor of a period building in Campo Sant’Angelo, devoted solely to the glory of Venice…

Not the Venice of Bellini and Veronese, nor the Venice of Canaletto and Guardi, but a much more recent Venice dating to less than a century ago. A city that art-history books, which are often far too conventional, ignore or barely mention with a mandatory comment, a fleeting postscript. This is the Venice of twentieth-century creations. I cannot overlook the fact that this residence also held prized twentieth-century Italian canvases and sculptures, as well as pieces that superbly represent the decorative arts of the Bel Paese from that period. Nevertheless, the house was devoted above all to Murano glass. Starting in the 1920s, this industry and this art enjoyed brilliant development and radically revived a lethargic tradition that had closed in on itself. Today, with the exception of a few glass specialists, collectors and aficionados, and a few merchants, who still knows about this revolution?

Francesco Carraro, who had collecting in his soul, did not settle for amassing paintings, Art Deco furniture and Murano glass. He considered his entire home to be a work of art, and the arrangement of each object and the furnishings in every room were shrewdly studied. He would have liked to devote a book to his home that would preserve its memory, but he ran out of time… It was an extravaganza of Murano according to a concept that had nothing to do with whims but an evident desire to educate: different types of vases, glasses, stemware, bottles and plates were beautifully aligned on perfectly illuminated shelves (artificial light enhances Murano glass). Vases in all shapes, sizes and colours with the most varied nuances of transparency, made with every kind of technique, those that master glassmakers reinvented competitively with a sense of antagonism and envy... One was struck by the diversity, by the infinite inventive capacity of those master glassmakers, the diversity permitted by glass, which multiplies the range of colours, the interplay of light and the thousands of reflections. It was constantly rekindled astonishment, a delight for the eye: happiness.

He considered his entire home to be a work of art, and the arrangement of each object and the furnishings in every room were shrewdly studied.

Everything and everyone was represented here – I won’t name names – from the mysterious Primavera to Yoichi Ohira, who to my great regret returned to his native Japan. Everything and everyone. I am not using these vague words randomly: artists, creators, artisans, entrepreneurs, the glass industry, the art of glass. The miracle involves linking the words “industry” and “art”, considered incompatible. There were creators whose names became famous, master glassmakers, glassblowers and modellers who were unjustly forgotten, factories and merchants who made Murano known around the world. All accomplices, all united, all together, and for nearly a century – to the great joy of glass lovers of yesterday and today – they made Murano an inspired place where imagination reigned supreme.

A chapter was written and Francesco Carraro was the champion of this adventure. His foundation, the Fondazione Chiara e Francesco Carraro, must now hand down this legacy to young people, who I am sure will take up this challenge.

Pierre Rosenberg