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M.V.M. Cappellin Glassworks & the Young Carlo Scarpa 1925-1931
Edited by Marino Barovier & Carla Sonego

Art books hold a special place in my heart because they allow me to be completely swept up in them. Their hardback covers and hundreds of pages mean I have to find somewhere quiet, still and most of all comfortable to allow myself to get lost within their pages. On hearing about The M.V.M. Cappellin Glassworks and the Young Carlo Scarpa 1925-1931 from SKIRA my intrigue made me even more anxious.


Admittedly I knew very little about Giacomo Cappellin, Carlo Scarpa or their revolutionary glassworks before I started reading the book. Yet it was to become clear that editor Marino Barovier, the foremost expert in glass art, would be a perfect guide for me providing concise, intriguing and passionate commentary that takes you on a truly fascinating odyssey of discovery. 


In Barovier preface he notes that Cappellin’s 'enthusiasm and passion' mixed with his 'strong personality' helped to give life to his new company which in turn did, for a short time at least, provide an unimaginable level of creative innovation. The coming together of Cappellin and Scarpa forged something unique that allowed both to capitalise on this important collaboration which fed a creative will that is as breathtaking as it is beautiful to look on at now.

Understanding an artist, their motives, desires and passions is never a certain thing when you read about them and their work. The difficulties lie in their work being able to convey a true or frank sense of who they were and the contribution that their work had on art, culture and society. Throughout Barovier chapter he removes any external baggage from the M.V.M. Cappellin Glassworks story allowing him to give a deep and resounding account of Cappellin’s work.


There is something really remarkable about Carlo Scarpa. The respect and admiration that he had for Cappellin was not simply ‘idol worship’ it seemed to be a lot deeper than that. As Carla Sonego notes [he] ‘…established a fruitful dialogue with Cappellin, based on great esteem…’ and Sonego goes further to explain ‘…he sometimes offered his drawing ability to give shape to the latter’s ideas…’. In this small section the reader is given a great sense of their working relationship and how, over time, an indelible bond was forged. 


In Sonego’s chapter we are shown how interlinked Scarpa’s background in architecture, stained glass and exhibition layouts where. There is no single focus in Scarpa’s mind his skillset seems to be all-encompassing the passion for design and creative zeal. This time at the Cappellin Glassworks was something Scarpa would never forget as Sonego concludes ‘I found work in a Murano glassworks. I learned to work with a marvellous material…I know glass and I know what can be done with it.’  

The reader is taken back to a time and place that is long gone and one can not help but feel moved by the way Barovier and Sonego talk about Cappellin Glassworks and Carlo Scarpa. Trying to get a grasp of art is always difficult mainly because our modern understandings of art is so much more different.

The way in which both Barovier and Sonego talk about the exhibitions, such an integral part of the work the glassworks, the reader begins to gain just a slight understanding of the significance of this period in glassmaking.


The M.V.M. Cappellin Glassworks and the Young Carlo Scarpa 1925-1931 becomes an unexpected, exciting and rewarding history of glass art and the place that it had in early 20th Century society. It is through the many exhibitions that Cappellin Glassworks showcased their work that the reader gets a true understanding of just what skill they possessed. 


There is a rich beauty found within the pages of this book that leave you simply awestruck. Each image presents a delicate beauty that is captivating as it is mesmerising as one lingers on a page taking in every detail. You can not avoid the scale and scope of the work the M.V.M. Cappellin Glassworks produced and it is not hard to see why they hold such a high place within glass art history.

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