Drawings by Fulvio Bianconi in the Rakow Research Library

Amid the extensive collection of design drawings held in the Rakow Research Library are 29 by Fulvio Bianconi. Many of these drawings have been recently digitized and are now available online.

Bianconi was an Italian designer born in 1915 in Padua (near Venice). He studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice before moving to Milan to work as a graphic designer. As fate would have it, he later connected with Paolo Venini, of Venini & C., in Murano and his creativity in design with the company fueled its post-war success.

For over a decade, the Library has worked to enhance its collection of drawings by this masterful designer. A generous gift by Rainer Zietz has helped to do just that. The drawing below, donated by Zietz in 2010, is of a cymbal player. It is unique among this collection because the figure maintains a more contemplative, less playful pose than is typical of the others.

Fulvio Bianconi design drawing (CMGL 119150).

Fulvio Bianconi design drawing (CMGL 119150).

Figurines such as the ones pictured above are the subjects of all these drawings. Three actually belong to Bianconi’s Commedia dell’Arte series. He created this series based on the familiar stock characters born of the improvisational theatre troupes of the same name in the 16th century. These troupes toured all over Europe and many gained international fame. Howard Lockwood, an expert on Venini, helped the Library to secure the original working drawing below of Commedia dell’Arte character Brighella. This character is often portrayed as an opportunistic, dishonest servant with an occasional penchant for violence. That being said, it is still among my favorite drawings!

Fulvio Bianconi design drawing (CMGL 131630).

Fulvio Bianconi design drawing (CMGL 131630).

The remaining two drawings associated with the Commedia dell’Arte series feature the acrobat Arlecchino and his mistress Arlecchina.

The Commedia dell’Arte figurines were exhibited at the 1948 Venice Biennale and enjoyed popularity for many years. Bianconi went on to achieve other successes—with Venini, with others, and on his own—beyond those found with his famous figurines. The “pezzati” vases are an example of another Bianconi hit.

Bianconi figurines in the Study Gallery

Bianconi figurines in the Study Gallery

The Bianconi drawings we have at the Library are a remarkable, albeit small, representation of the work of this great designer.

See a select group of Bianconi’s glass figurines, including a seated cymbal player from the From the series “La Maschere Italiane: Pagliaccio Tiepolesco,” in the Museum’s Study Gallery.


The Rakow Research Library is open to the public 9am to 5pm every day. We encourage everyone to explore our collections in person or online. If you have questions or need help with your research, please use our Ask a Glass Question service.

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