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Dall’alto: grande vaso da esposizione, 1911; grande vaso blu con coperchio di Costantino Bormioli, XX secolo; vaso scanalato, inizi XX secolo. From the top: large exhibition vase, 1911; large blue vase with lid by Costantino Bormioli, 20th century; grooved vase, early 20th century.

The Museum of Glass and the Art of glassmaking of Altare

The refurbishment of a monument enhances Altare’s ancient history: its longstanding artistic glassmaking tradition. A collection of over 2,000 pieces attesting Altare’s production is now permanently on show at Villa Rosa, a wonderful Liberty building. Monsignor Bertolotti had it built for his sister Rosalia in 1906. Architect Nicolò Campora was in charge of the project. The building has now been restored to its former glory thanks to a painstaking refurbishment project. The harmonious decorative splendour on the outside of the building is coupled with the freshness of the interiors, which are characterized by striking features, such as richly carved wooden panels, a wonderful fireplace, wreath decorations, colourful papier-mâché flowers and braids, the frescos decorating the various rooms and the radiators decorated with similar patterns, the plumb glass windows and the windows decorated with painted films. The end result was a source of great satisfaction to ISVAV (Institute for the Study of Glass and of the Art of Glassmaking), which believed in the project, prompting the Town Council to work in partnership with the Superintendency. This lovely piece of architecture is arranged on two levels besides the ground floor and it is divided into average sized rooms. The building now hosts the Museum of Glass. Up until last year the Oratory of Saint Sebastian had been home to the museum.

Altare is a small town that is located where the Alps and the Apennines meet at the back of Savona. It prides itself on a longstanding glassmaking tradition that goes back to the 12th century. The town serves as a strategic passageway from the sea right to the mainland. Rich woodland, which provides wood-fuel for lighting kilns, coupled with some legislative and customs privileges are the basic factors behind this thriving activity, which presents some very specific and well defined features: in fact Altare has become synonymous with glass. The most different items have been made using this material, ranging from useful everyday products to sophisticated machines, which are employed in the pharmaceutical and chemical industry. Skilful craftsmen, the so-called “monsù”, namely the rulers of the local population, spread their art well beyond the borders of this small town. Indeed, other glassmakers from Altare are also known to have worked elsewhere in Europe since the 16th century and for important courts, like the court of the Sun King. The year 1856 marked an important milestone for Altare, as that was the time when Società Cooperativa Artistica Vetraria of Altare (SAV) was established. Its activity continued through to 1978. Most of the show-pieces on display actually date from that production. The peculiar feature of Altare’s glass is that it is “white”, namely colourless, as it is called in the local jargon. The features of the raw material, which is rich in potassium, make glass very strong. The glass is blown into wooden moulds but it is also etched and cut. The small rooms of the Museum only host a small selection of items included in the collection, part of which will be displayed in rotation. The “Giants of glass” are among some of the most charming works. They are displayed inside a majestic wooden case. These huge containers weigh several kilos and one of them was displayed at the International Exhibition in Turin in 1911. Other unique items that were decorated in bold colours by master Costantino (1876-1934) and Cimbro (1880-1961) Bormioli, two veritable pioneers both as regards the exploration of new shapes and technologies, are on show in other rooms.

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Profile for Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d'Arte

Artigianato 58  

Italian Magazine about crafts

Artigianato 58  

Italian Magazine about crafts

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