Francesco Moretti began producing stained-glass windows in 1858. During a lifetime of study and experimentation he developed a unique, personal style that at times brought him into conflict with the established concept of stained glass held by some critics. However, thanks to his notoriety and excellent reputation in the field of restoration work, in 1891 the Minister of Education requested him to produce an official circular to be sent to all Italian Prefectures containing ‘all the necessary instructions to impede the damage to historic stained-glass windows caused by negligence, and inappropriate methods of cleaning and restoration.’
Painting on glass means mixing colour and light to give life to a work that expresses itself through these elements alone. This involves an understanding of where the work will be placed, of how the sun’s path changes, of establishing the most suitable position, and only then of choosing the colours, mixing and applying them. Throughout the production process, it is the sunlight itself which is the test of whether the colours have been chosen and matched harmoniously while not forgetting that the soldered metal strips which hold the pieces of glass together must form an integral part of the composition. The best way of doing this is often to rely upon traditional techniques which have stood the test of time.
Today in the Moretti Caselli studio stained-glass windows are created which cater for all tastes, both modern and classical, while using traditional techniques. Moretti always insisted that stained-glass work is not a ‘minor’ craft, as glass lends itself to innumerable creative possibilities, just as more commonly used materials such as wood, canvas and marble do. Thus from the second half of the nineteenth century onwards, the Studio has considered stained-glass painting to be similar to oil painting, only that instead of colour being applied to canvas, it is applied to glass so as to exploit to the full the play of light and the transparency of glass. As in the past, subjects are based on detailed research and are meticulously executed using tiny brush-strokes so as to render the work as lifelike as possible.
The Studio has a historical collection of traditional machinery and tools still in working order, and although they are no longer used today, they bear witness to the Studio’s growth and development. Of particular interest is Moretti’s wood-fired kiln, painstakingly designed to reach and maintain specific temperatures.
Moretti’s descendants who have kept the family tradition alive still work using his secrets and knowhow, lovingly kept and respected, while adding each his own personal manual and scientific experience. Stained-glass work is not simply a question of cutting glass, painting it and then mounting the finished work; it is a delicate, skilful craft, the fruit of love, dedication and pride in creating unique works of art.