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Empoli's Mid-20th Century Artistic Glass

Poltrona Frau, 145 Wooster St, New York
Nov 2010 - Feb 2011

Empoli Glass at Poltrona Frau

Glassmaking in the Empoli region dates as far back as the 13th century, primarily producing containers for the agricultural products. By around 1900 a secondary market developed for Empoli's simple tableware or "buffet glass." The beautiful green color of traditional Empoli glass is a natural byproduct of the ferrous oxide in the sands of the local rivers that is used for making the glass. The unrefined metal also made the glass cool rapidly, making artistic flourishes difficult. This natural limitation lead to the development of a uniquely refined and modern aesthetic that was complimentary to the "Stile Novecento," a unique take on neo-classicism that was Italy's answer to Art Deco.

At least 28 small glasshouses operated in and around Empoli from 1920-70 yet their legacy has largely been lost as importers and retailers originally sold their glass as “Murano”. After the Second World War the "verde" glass gave way to the cased style, with its opaque, bright and exuberant colors, and often with an interior "lattimo" or white layer. The large scale collapse of Empoli's artistic glass industry in the 1970's was due to both a failure to integrate new technological innovations in glass production and international competition.

Empoli Glass at Poltrona Frau