Although originally entered into one of the regular weekly sales held by Sworders in Stansted Mountfitchet, this striking mid-century glass vessel was plucked from obscurity by a member of staff who recognised it as something worthy of further research.
It is by the Italian painter/glass artist Dino Martens
(1894-1970), the former artistic director of Aureliano Toso, the
famous Venetian glassworks where he combined traditional Muranese
techniques with daring asymmetric shapes and designs marked by
their obvious difficulty of execution.
This jug was part of his so-called Oriente range - the
result of many experiments in which Martens strived to fuse the
borders between painting and blown glass. The technique (exhibited
for the first time at the 1952 Biennale) was achieved by rolling a
clear cylinder of glass over colourful, flat patterns comprising
ground glass and aventurine, glass canes and latticino glass
As Sworders' director Guy Schooling observed, Martens glass is
more usually the preserve of sales in Continental Europe and
coastal America. "Very few of them have been offered for sale in
this country. In fact, we could find only three pieces that have
ever sold in the UK, so we were not certain how it would be
They weren't disappointed when the jug was entered into a
specialist sale of decorative arts on September 4 with an estimate
of £300-500. Bidding started at £700, but with interest on the
phone and via the internet, it finally sold online to Germany for
The buyer's premium was 20%.