The son of Benvenuto, one of the most important glass furnace owner of the time, Ercole Barovier was born in Murano in 1889 where he died in 1974. He completed his classical studies in Venice, first engaging in various activities outside the glass sector to finally land in 1919 in the Barovier & C. artistic glass factory, becoming artistic director in 1926. In 1936 he joined the brothers Decio and Artemio Toso giving life to Ferro-Toso Barovier which, in 1939, became Barovier-Toso & C., to then take the name of Barovier & Toso in 1942. Until 1972 he was artistic director of the glass factory. While expressing his artistic personality from the end of the 1920s, he worked in a well-defined technical and aesthetic tradition while remaining faithful to an intensely colored and decorated glass material, demonstrating a particular predilection for the “murrine” technique. While knowing deeply all the phases and aspects of glass craftsmanship, Barovier never worked as a master in the furnace, his search for new models took place mostly in an empirical way with tests in the furnace alongside the trusted master glassmaker, a sometimes ingeniously exploiting random discoveries, sometimes experimenting as a connoisseur with new effects. In the twenties, in addition to the blown animals, the large transparent polychrome murrine vases with stylized floral motifs, of Liberty origin, he created the vases and animals of the “Primavera” series (1929) in streaked whitish glass and crackle, profiled by large filaments glassy blacks. Since 1930 he has created some of his best pieces, lightening the full-bodied plasticity of the twentieth century style with a glassy material with gold and silver sprays, air bubbles and inclusions of different materials with unusual effects. A technique widely used by him in these years was the “hot coloring without fusion” which consisted in the introduction of colored substances, not fusible in the crucible of the ready-made glass so that they created particular “material” effects inside the mass. Among the series of vases of great interest made in the years 1935-36: Crepuscolo (a glass with soft brownish arborescences obtained with iron wool embedded in the wall, modeled in massive forms and decorated with large crystal rings); Autunno gemmato (glass with reddish spots obtained with hot coloring without melting); Laguna gemmata and Marina gemmata. The internal bubble crystals with large applications of stars, rings and spirals (1937) obtained the Grand Prix in Paris but the Rostrati (1938) had even greater commercial success, characterized by large light-refracting points, obtained with a particular technical expedient and patented. The Rugiadosi (with a pearly surface obtained with glass grit collected on the softened surface, 1940) and the Groviglio (obtained by entangling a large glass cord with a colored internal filament, 1940) were also a novelty. Among the most refined twentieth-century pieces are the Rilievi aurati e argentati (bowls with fruit, flowers and leaves in relief, covered with a gold and silver leaf, 1940). The post-war models can be linked to two lines of research. On the one hand, in fact, there is the interest, already shown in the twentieth century, for very thick glass materials treated in various ways, especially with hot coloring without fusion, modeled in elementary forms, often asymmetrical and of archaeological inspiration: Cordonato oro (1950), Barbarici (1951), Eugenei (1951), Porpora (1952), Neolitici (1954), Aborigeni (1954), Efeso (1964). On the other hand, he conceived models in which the square and geometric shapes were enriched with polychrome decorations executed in the furnace. The series was opened by the Damasco and Corinto, the first with bands of murrine and multiple reeds, the second with multiple reeds, both sprinkled with gold and iridescent, of unusual grace far from the “modernity” of the following types. Followed by the Murrino (1948), Zebrati (1949), Millefili (1956), Sidone (1957), Parabolici (1957), Spina (1958), Argo (1959), Dorici (1960), Intarsio (1961), Caccia (1962) ), Siderei (1966), Rotellati (1970), Neomurrini (1972), to mention the most significant models in which he used as a decorative module of the glass “fabric” tesserae of different colors, sections of millefiori reeds or perforated reeds, rods lengthwise. Personal retrospectives have been dedicated to Ercole Barovier in Murano in 1975 and at the Venice Biennial in 1976. His glass has occupied an important place in the exhibitions relating to Venetian glassware of our century and are preserved, as well as in the Murano glass museum, in the main world museums. In his long career he obtained official recognition from the Kingdom of Italy (1924, 1939) and from the Italian Republic (1952), and prizes at important international exhibitions: gold medal at the Triennali (Monza, 1930; Milan, 1933, 1954), silver medal at the Milan Triennale (1957) and Grand Prix at the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris (1937), honorable mention at the Compasso d’Oro (1956). His works also received mentions at the Venice Biennials, at numerous editions of the Milan Triennale and at many of the international events relating to glass and furniture.

Excertp from the text by Rosa Barovier Mentasti; Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani – Volume 34 (1988)