02 October 2010

Gregorio of Nauplion, Glass Painter

Mayster Grigorius de Napolis,31 March 1280
end of first line, second paragraph from the bottom

Gregorios of Nauplion first appears as a painter of glass, pittore di moioli, in Murano in this document from 1280, and between then and 1288 he shows up another thirty times.  He is the first "foreign" painter to appear in Muranese records, but as a foreigner was anyone from outside the commune of Venice, it is remarkable that the foreigner was Greek.

Really, there is no information about him, beyond the fact that one of these records shows that in December 1280 he took on Piero, Vido's son, as an apprentice for 11 months, and all the others indicate that people had trouble getting him to pay his debts.  It appears that a major reason for glass-worker debts at that time was failure to pay up for wood for the glass furnaces, and for the frit that was melted down for glass-making. He lived in the parish of S. Stefano, and the remnants of that church are shown here in front of S. Pietro Martire.

 How Gregorios got from Nauplion to Murano (Nauplion was then under the de la Roche Dukes of Athens), and where he learned to paint glass (Corinth would be likely) -- all that is anyone's guess.

No Murano glass survives from that time, so we don't know what his painting might have looked like. Surviving records have an order for 100 glasses with three figures around a tree, another order for glasses with garlands and pearls.  This is one of the earliest survivals, from 1330, modelled on Islamic glass.  Those little white dots are probably what is meant by pearls.

The Murano glass industry was producing in large and standardized amounts.  There are orders for 750 drinking glasses, 26 footed glasses, two large cases of footed glasses with garlands and pearls for export to Romania -- that would be Constantinople or Greece or Crete, 600 footed cups and 600 footed cups with a thread around the foot and the mouth.

A blue thread is common in that early Murano glass, and the first time I visited Monemvasia, in June 1978, I found part of the foot of a glass with a deep blue thread around the edge.  I found another fragment of threaded glass at Mistra two days later.

Lift a glass to Gregorios of Nauplion.

My great appreciation to Michael Pettinger for discovering Gregorios for me in Vetro e Vetrai di Murano, Vol. 3, by Luigi Zecchin.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I will not publish Anonymous comments.