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Roman urn and Italian glass meet new home at the Met

Nearly 45 glass works made by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa between 1932 and 1947 have been donated to The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Dr. David Landau and his wife Marie-Rose Kahane.

“In 1929 the International Exhibition of Contemporary Glass and Rugs opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in its vitrines Italian glass was well represented by major pieces mostly produced at Paolo Venini’s factory in Murano,” explains Landau. They were for sale—which sounds really extraordinary now—but the museum did not jump at this unrivalled opportunity. My wife and I are trying to partly remedy that by giving a few Venini pieces to a museum it is impossible not to love. Whenever we visit New York, more time is spent in its collections than anywhere else, as there is always something to learn and much to enjoy.”

“Every piece in this extraordinary gift is an outstanding example of Scarpa’s artistry. Together, these works represent the full sweep of his oeuvre in glass,” adds Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art. “From the incandescence of a wafer-thin vessel tinged with blue—or a vase in which bubbles of air are suspended in translucent glass that glimmers in the light from tiny fragments of gold leaf—this remarkable donation from Dr. Landau and Ms. Kahane is a dazzling and deeply generous gesture. It will have a transformative impact on our holdings of 20th-century glass and design, and will form important links to the Met’s Greek, Roman, Asian, and European holdings, to whose lineage Scarpa pays shimmering homage.”

“This prescient gift from David Landau and Marie-Rose Kahane comes at a critical moment in the Met’s history, as we are reinvigorating our commitment to modern architecture and design,” states Thomas P. Campbell, Met Director and CEO. “We are extremely grateful for these pioneering works that represent the breadth of Scarpa’s radical experimentation in glass and that redefined an ancient tradition for the modern world.”

The pieces by Scarpa will become part of the collection of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Thanks in part to a challenge grant from Metropolitan Museum Trustee Mary Jaharis, the museum acquired a Roman urn from the first-early second century A.D.—one of the finest porphyry vessels to have survived from classical antiquity—has been acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“This rare and beautiful vase is a superb example of classical craftsmanship at its best,” notes Campbell. “The public will now have the extraordinary opportunity to see it within the context of other Hellenistic and Roman works in various media, and especially other sculptures made of porphyry, in the collection of the Museum’s Department of Greek and Roman Art, one of the major repositories of classical art in North America.”

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