Carlo Scarpa - Design London Wednesday, June 30, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, Turin

  • Catalogue Essay

    Phillips wishes to thank Arch. Franco Deboni for his assistance cataloguing the present lot.

    Carlo Scarpa began his prolific career as a glass designer at M.V.M. Cappellin in 1926, replacing the painter Vittorio Zecchin as artistic director. From the beginning, Scarpa demonstrated that his goal was to focus his creativity on a certain degree of modernity that was unusual and almost revolutionary in the Muranese glass production at that time, which was very traditional and conservative. During those early years, Scarpa’s glass designs were distinguished by their pure shapes and primary colours.

    In the M.V.M. Cappellin Catalogues, series II, volume 17 we find an incalmo bowl, model no. 5982, with the top in corallo glass—the word used in Murano slang to identify the red opaque glass—and the bottom in black glass. I have never seen the present vase before, not even documented in pictures, but the drawing of the bowl with accompanying notes is very clear and exhaustive.

    Around 1940, when Scarpa was working at Venini, he returned to the idea of simple vases in two colours. At the XXII Venice Biennale, the architect presented a group of objects from the series, which received great acclaim. Due to the Second World War these works remained as prototypes and never went into production. In fact, we don’t find any of these designs in any of Venini’s official catalogues, including the Blue, Red or Black, except for some models with identical shape which had already been produced in different materials. This is why these objects are very rare and attractive to collectors.

    I believe that if Mark Rothko had been a glass designer, he would have created such a vase. Instead Carlo Scarpa did so ten years earlier. In its simplicity this black and red vase represents one of the milestones in the history of modern glass design.

    Arch. Franco Deboni

  • Artist Biography

    Carlo Scarpa

    Italian • 1906 - 1978

    Phillips Design has a deep-rooted passion for the work of Carlo Scarpa, one of the twentieth century's great poets, whose rhythms, lines and materials — a grammar of space — appeal both as a local response to the architect's birth city, Venice, and a universal language of ordered dynamism.

    Carlo Scarpa graduated with a degree in architectural drawing from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice in 1926. In the years that followed, he worked as a teaching assistant for a former professor, ran his own architectural practice in Venice and worked as a freelance artist for M.V.M. Cappellin glassworks. When M.V.M. Cappellin went bankrupt in 1932, Scarpa joined Venini & C. in Murano, where he served as artistic director until 1947. During his tenure at Venini, Scarpa developed a host of new techniques — in particular, mezza filigrano, a bollicine and corroso — that catapulted the centuries-old tradition of Venetian glassblowing to the forefront of modernist design.

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Rare prototype vase

circa 1940
Red and black laccato glass.
24.7 cm (9 3/4 in.) high
Produced by Venini & C., Murano, Italy. Underside acid-etched venini/murano/ITALIA.

£40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for £56,700

Contact Specialist

Antonia King

Head of Sale, Design



London Auction 30 June 2021