the history of orsoni smalti veneziani...
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The History of Orsoni Smalti Veneziani

"The history of Orsoni is the unique legacy of an art that has
handed down mysterious alchemies for four generations.
The traditions mirror the ancient art of Byzantine gold leaf
mosaic
and the pure enamels of Murano’s Renaissance."

Angelo Orsoni
Angelo Orsoni

Orsoni’s fame goes back to Venice of the XIX century, thanks to Angelo Orsoni’s initiative and artistic endowments. Born into a Murano family in the mid-nineteenth century, Angelo Orsoni spends his early years working in glass factories. 


Orsoni Smalti & Mosaic Gold

Before long, what some of his colleagues consider a humble job, evolves into Orsoni’s great passion and he becomes especially skilled in making crystal, colored glass and aventurine.


Giandomenic Facchina

He is discovered by the celebrated mosaicist Giandomenico Facchina who, after receiving an important commission from France, opens a factory making mosaic tesserae in Venice and offers Orsoni a job producing smalti.

When Facchina moves to France, young Angelo is reluctant to follow him


Orsoni family & employees in 1912

and in 1888 is presented with the Venetian workshop.

great exhibition in paris
Exposition Universelle of 1889

The following year, Angelo Orsoni takes his work to the Great Exhibition in Paris.  When Angelo Orsoni set out for Paris in 1889, little can he guess at the success that his courageous, original idea is to bring him.


Orsoni smalti panel at the 1889 great exhibition in Paris

The success, when it comes, is enormous: his multicolored panel, created as a sample collection of smalti and mosaic gold, displayed alongside the most avant-garde techniques, immediately acquires artistic status and is considered a sign of its maker’s genius, while representing Orsoni’s first goal in a life dedicated to mosaic.


Orsoni mosaic detail

This is the age of Art Nouveau, when mosaic ceases to be regarded


orsoni mosaic - monastery of st. irene

simply as a medium for religious works of art,


orsoni mosaic venice canal

and is used for the first time in secular art


Orsoni mosaic venice

and decoration.  Mosaic production enjoys a healthy revival.


Orsoni garden - Fondamenta di Cannaregio

At the start of the new century, Angelo Orsoni transfers his business to the Fondamenta di Cannaregio, where it is still situated.

angelo orsoni original smalti flesh tones
angelo orsoni original venezia smalti flesh tones

While he carries on experimenting with color, Orsoni manages to display his genius in the field of technical innovation, introducing coal heating and inventing a rotating cylindrical press to compress the incandescent glass paste, in this way giving the tesserae a more even surface.


Orsoni mosaic gold sign

Orsoni’s name soon becomes linked to major projects and wins fame around the world.

sagrada familia church news
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

After his father’s death, Giovanni Orsoni does not betray the cultural and technical legacy inherited: he is responsible for the wonderful mosaic adornments on the spires of Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia Church, for those inside the Altare della Patria in Rome, and the

stockholm city hall
Golden mosaic room, Stockholm

astonishing Golden Room in Stockholm City Hall, where the Nobel Prizes are awarded.  Giovanni is assisted by his son Angelo, who takes over the company upon his father’s death in 1935.  After the war, the Orsoni’s activities are renewed with vigor and enthusiasm and Angelo is joined by his son Ruggero.


Orsoni Masters

When his father dies in 1969, Ruggero carries on the family business together with his brother Lucio Orsoni who adds a new component to the traditional production of smalti by opening a workshop creating finished mosaics.

working with smalti
Orsoni mosaic studio - working with smalti

In 2003 the Orsoni’s entry into Trend Group seals the artistic sensibilities and experiences of Lucio Orsoni (now Angelo Orsoni’s Honorary President) and Pino Bisazza, President of both Trend and the Venetian company.


Golden Mosaic Buddha

Today, Orsoni mosaics can be admired in the furthest corners of the earth: from Westminster Abbey in London to the gilded domes and the Buddhas in Bangkok, from king’s palaces in Saudi Arabia to the artistic and religious works in Budapest, from the pagoda of the grand palace of the Royal Family in Thailand, to the Bund 18 in Shanghai.

full smalti palette


  Related Links

Mosaic Info - Orsoni Smalti Factory - Venice, Italy

Mosaic Article - Orsoni Grand Prize Award Winner & Entries

Mosaic Classes - Orsoni Master of Mosaico