Important Design

Important Design

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 177. "Morandiana (III)" Bottle.

Property from the Brooklyn Museum, Sold to Support Museum Collections

Gio Ponti

"Morandiana (III)" Bottle

Auction Closed

December 8, 09:48 PM GMT


3,000 - 5,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from the Brooklyn Museum, Sold to Support Museum Collections

Gio Ponti

"Morandiana (III)" Bottle

circa 1949

model no. 4479B

with the original stopper

produced by Venini, Italy


bottle with acid stamp venini/murano/ITALIA and with two original paper labels, one inscribed TM1590 A/Ponti 1 and the other inscribed Ponti/Case 1; stopper with two original paper labels, one inscribed TM1590 A/Ponti 2 and the other inscribed Ponti/Case 1

14¼ in. (36.2 cm) high

Gift of the Italian Government to the Brooklyn Museum, 1954
Marino Barovier and Carla Sonego, eds., Paolo Venini and his Furnace, exh. cat., Le Stanze del Vetro, Milan, 2016, pp. 397 (for a drawing of the model), 398 (for a photograph of the present lot exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, 1951) and 399 (for a drawing and period photograph of the model, 1950)
Italy at Work: Her Renaissance in Design Today, Brooklyn Museum, New York, November 30, 1950-January 31, 1951; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, March 15-May 13, 1951; de Young Museum, California, June 18, 1951-July 31, 1951; Portland Art Museum, Oregon, September 5-October 21, 1951; Minneapolis Institute of Fine Arts, Minnesota, November 27, 1951-January 8, 1952; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, February 13-March 27, 1952; City Art Museum of St. Louis, Missouri, May 4-June 14, 1952; Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, September 7-October 22, 1952; Albright Art Gallery, New York, November 27, 1952-January 8, 1953; Carnegie Institute, Pennsylvania, February 12-March 27, 1953; Baltimore Museum of Art, May 1, 1953-June 15, 1953; Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Rhode Island, October 1-November 15, 1953

Venini Glass in Italy at Work

By Franco Deboni


On November 22nd, 1950, the exhibition Italy at Work: Her Renaissance in Design Today opened at the Brooklyn Museum and traveled to eleven major American museums thereafter. This exhibition was an incredibly important and groundbreaking event, organized with the objective to showcase and expose Italian art and design to an international audience in an effort to stimulate Italy’s economy following the end of World War II. The four curators of this exhibition were Meyric R. Rogers, Charles Nagel (Director of the Brooklyn Museum), Walter Dorwin Teague and Ramy Alexander, who traveled across Italy seeking out the nation’s most talented artists, designers and craftsmen. However, the real “deus ex machina” of the event was architect Gio Ponti, who contributed not only as a selector of works, but also as a designer himself.

The preparation of this exhibition was long, exemplary and meticulous, and the extraordinary result was appreciated by visitors and critics alike. All mediums and genres were represented in the exhibition, including furniture, jewelry, textiles, ceramics, glass, and metalwork, and nearly all of the 2,500 works selected were created in 1950. The field of glassmaking was represented by exquisite works from the furnace of Paolo Venini. Venini aspired to demonstrate the potential of Venetian art glass by presenting vessels that featured simple, minimalist shapes appealing to modern sensibilities, but ornamented with traditional techniques, such as “canne”, “filigrana”, “incalmo” and “mano volante” (literally translated to “flying hand,” or free applied decoration without the use of tools). All of these were perfectly executed by the best glass masters of the island, including the present bottles and drinking glasses designed by Ponti (Lots 171-179 and 181). Ponti and Venini had collaborated since the 1920s when they joined the influential Il Labirinto, a group of architects, designers and manufacturers who promoted high quality Italian products for the modern home. Between 1946 and 1950, Ponti created a series of bottles for Venini characterized by their dynamic shapes and colorful decoration, including the iconic “Morandiane” models and the “Donna Campligesca” model inspired by the female form. Venini also enjoyed a long-lasting collaboration with Murano artist Fulvio Bianconi. Alongside works by Ponti, a number of inventive pieces by Bianconi were displayed in the exhibition, including his famous “fazzoletto” (handkerchief) vases and the “Fasce Orizzontali” bottle (lot 180).


The December 1950 issue of the magazine Domus, which Ponti founded in 1928, was dedicated entirely to the show, evincing just how significant it was to the designer and to the Italian decorative arts world as a whole. Ponti wrote with sincere emotion that he was following this “pilgrimage” of Italian arts through the twelve cities, thanking the organizers for their help in promoting the knowledge of the country’s best productions. At the conclusion of the exhibition, the present lots and many more were gifted by the Italian government to the Brooklyn Museum, a gesture that demonstrated the atmosphere of friendship and collaboration between Italy and the United States, and recognized the Brooklyn Museum’s instrumental role in uplifting post-war Italian art and craft. The pieces remain an important witness to the development of Italian glass art and its shift away from mainstream commercial production into modernity. The appearance of these eleven lots at auction, sold to support the Brooklyn Museum’s collections, presents the collecting community with an unparalleled opportunity to acquire works with pristine provenance from such a seminal exhibition in design history.