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The Beauty of Lattimo Glass

Posted by Heath Rosenzweig on

Art collectors and designers have coveted Murano glass in all of its forms for centuries, often because of its bright use of color. However, lattimo glass, one of the most legendary types of Murano glass, stands out for its lack of color. Lattimo glass was very popular during the Golden Age of Murano glass, around the 16th century, and museums around the world now display some of the most iconic lattimo glass creations.

A Matter of Chemistry

Lattimo (from Italian latte, “milk”) is an opaque white glass made by using disperse microcrystals that separate within the glass as it cools. These microcrystals reflect light beams, giving the glass its milky white color.

The color and consistency of the glass depends on the materials added to the mixture. In the case of lattimo glass, glassmakers add calcium and sodium fluorides, as well as zinc oxide, to the original mix. Some of the earliest factories to make lattimo glass used lead and arsenic compounds.

Simplicity and Exclusivity

Historians believe that lattimo was created in Venice during the 15th century, but it didn’t gain popularity until almost 100 years later, when glassmakers began applying decorations such as engravings and drawings to the glass, a decorative technique likely influenced by Chinese porcelain. Because of the hard work involved in their creation, lattimo pieces were rare and almost exclusively created for families of high status.

As with most types of Murano glass, lattimo declined in popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was revived in the 1920s when MVM Capellin & Co, one of the most famous Murano glass factories, created geometric lattimo vases for the 1927 International Exhibition of Decorative Arts. Eventually, most Murano glass factories followed suit and began producing their own pieces using white glass.

Today, you can find lattimo glass used in diverse pieces ranging from dinnerware, vases, lamps, and even in architectural design. Whether you prefer the simplicity of lattimo glass or the more colorful styles of Murano glass, thankfully you no longer have to be royalty to purchase a stunning piece for your home or office. Visit our shop to find something perfect for you.

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