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The Murano-born sculptor, designer, and entrepreneur in the glassmaking industry was unquestionably one of the most influential Novocento sculptors and glass designers in the 30s and 40s in Italy.

Napoleone Martinuzzi Year c. 1928 Made by Venini Height 36 cm

Hailing from a family of glassblowers, Napoleone Martinuzzi went on to study at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice between 1906-1909 and became in 1921 the director of the Murano museum and then artistic director at Venini in 1925.

He was the inventor of the the pulegoso glass - a type of glass with a spongy appearance and lots of air bubbles which essentially challenged the tenets of traditional Venini production and Murano glass back then.

An important 'Pulegoso' vase, model no. 3273, Circa 1928 executed by Venini, Murano, Italy, lightly iridescent hand-blown and applied glass, the handles and top rim with gold-foil inclusions

Vittorio Zecchin who was his predecessor at the helm of Venini stuck to purity of forms, transparency and lightness. Perhaps quite evocative of what we see in masterpieces by Tintoretto and Titian for example.

Martinuzzi's work is coherent with the style of Art Nouveau but also the work of Gustave Klimt and the Belgian sculptor - George Minne, which to some extent, one can say, his vision was grounded in his sculptural approach to glassmaking.

Napoleone Martinuzzi Sconces, pair Cenedese Italy, c. 1955

He experimented with vast possibilities , playing with volumes and translating mass into form, which pointed to a large collection of works emblematic of the Novecento style.

He first exhibited in 1908 his sculptures but in 1928, Martinuzzi exhibited at the XVI Venice Biennale where he had the opportunity to present a series of vessels inspired by ancient forms executed in vibrant colours.

A rare Pulegoso Amphora vase, model 3219, circa, 1928

The artist exploited the air bubble inclusions within the glass which gave it a spongy appearance - the creation of pulegoso glass is arguably the most important contribution to Murano.

In 1932, he founded his own company - Zecchin Martinuzzi Vetri Artistici e Mosaici along with Francesco Zecchin which lasted only a few years.

It is only during the post-war that he returned to glass design after a short spell between 1937-47 that sculpture was his main focus.

His lasting tribute can be seen at the Vittoriale of Gabriele D'Annunzio - the great Italian poet's home on Lake Garda - where a vast collection of sculptures and glass vessels are on display.

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