Update: The macchie vase sold for $8,450.
What you see: A macchie (mah-key-aye) vase created circa 1890 by the Italian company Francesco Ferro e Figlio. Wright estimates it at $4,000 to $6,000.
What is Francesco Ferro e Figlio? It was a company founded in 1880 by Francesco Ferro and his son, Ferdinando. It ceased doing business under this name after Francesco died in 1901.
Wait, this vase was made in 1890? The late 19th century? Seriously? “So many 19th century pieces really do look modern,” says Sara Blumberg, a consultant for Wright. “This has no handles and no great ornamentation except for the glass itself. They really were making a step forward out of the baroque.”
How difficult would this have been to make in 1890? “Regardless of the technique, there are great losses. There’s a level of difficulty when dealing with different types of glass in the same vessel. You can think of it as studio glass in that regard,” she says. “A lot of the aspects are dependent on the day, the blower, the conditions, and luck as well.”
The vase stands 12 inches tall. Did its size pose a challenge to the glassblower? “Generally speaking, the larger a vessel becomes, the more difficult it is to make,” Blumberg says. “Twelve inches may not seem incredibly large, but for the 19th century, it is.”
Is it unique? “It’s unique in the sense that every vase is hand-blown. But in 25 years, I’ve never handled one,” she says. “It’s really very rare.”
What does “macchie” mean? It means “spot,” or “spotted.” It’s a literal description of the vase’s appearance.
What else makes this vase special? “It’s rather startling to look at. It’s a simple vessel, but there’s all this activity on the surface. It’s like looking at an abstract painting,” she says. “It’s quite early, but it has a modernity to it. There’s an artistic presence here that’s very intentional, and beautiful to see. That’s what makes the piece so exciting and rare. You don’t come across it very often.”
Text is copyright Sheila Gibson Stoodley. Image is courtesy of Wright.