Stained Glasses in Tuscany in XIX and XX century



t the end of XIX century and beginning of XX, stained glasses started again in Florence, inspired by topics which incipient tourism discovered in preserved city artworks, or in more traditional religious themes. Must of the Stained glasses, eve at this time, stil are in churches oand religious buildings. Studies about topics, techniques and specially medieval colors increased, in relation with romanticism themes. It brings a production renewal, diffused in Tuscany and in Florence like elsewhere in Europe. As at the most glorious time of Middle Ages and Rinascimento, the creation of new glass masters dynasties and manufactures is accompained by the publication of theorical treaties and manuals.

Techniques remain almost identical to those of the Middle Age, as well as the work distribution. An artist establishes the drawing, and manufactures then the "paperboards". Then the glass Master which transforms the project into various colours glasses, and assembles the final work. The tools evolve with the technical improvements of industrial era. The reproduction of old works continues, focused on restorations, repairing, or new academic and religious topic orders. In deprived area, topics and techniques find more autonomy, even if inspiration is often marked by the Florentin trecento. They invest the growing up market of prived or public decoration: hotels, but also banks, various kind of public buildings, and even private residences, proud to show their light decorations. In majority of cases, decorations are stained glass type, glass doors or large glass surfaces.

Several factors contribute to increase those stained glasses activities in the XIX century Florence. First of all, the presence downtown of scientists, artists, and rich foreign tourists, in a stable or temporary way. They contribute to the technical studie, encourage the development, particularly in the churches, by gifts and orders. They also bring new artistic forms, Liberty, Art Déco, which influences the glassmakers and mark the decorations. Also, in the private field, they bring the necessity of simplier elements, needed for general or grotesque decoration, as geometrical reasons, various elements (candlesticks, masks, plants, animaux…), often small size elements. It allows a development of a "complement" decoration market, both vaster and more accessible to a larger public. This market finds a place in the "salons" and commercial exposures of local, national or international craft industry. Lastly, a school creation, the Scuola professionale di Arti decorative E industriali, impulsed by barone Giulio Franchetti, begins its courses in 1882, giving a strong impulse to the florentine art craft work. At the same time, Rome becomes capital of Italiy, and Florence assumes definitively its artistic and cultural capital statute.