The many secrets of a pair of glasses

In Inspiration, Manifatto Stories

Dandy’s glasses by Fabio Stramare are the product of a smart combination of automated innovative processes and traditional techniques. This unique collection inspired us to go back in time and explore the varied and long history of eyeglasses.

We discovered that Italy is not only the place where Manifatto glasses come from, but also where the first pair of wearable glasses was made during the Middle Age.

First pair of glasses made in Italy
First pair of glasses made in Italy

Over time it became the more and more frequent to portray, in frescoes and paintings, philosophers, kings, cardinals and saints that read or write old manuscripts holding eyeglasses in front of their eyes.

Frescoes by Tommaso da Modena in the Seminario attached to the Basilica San Nicolò in Treviso, north of Venice (1352).
Hugh de Provence: frescoes of the Basilica San Nicolò in Treviso, by Tommaso da Modena (1352).
The 'Glasses Apostle' by Conrad von Soest (1403).
Glasses Apostle: panel from the Wildunger Altarpiece of the church of Bad Wildungen (Germany) by Konrad von Soest (1403).
Saint Peter, altarpiece by Friedrich Herlin (1466) in the St. Jakob Church in Germany.
Saint Peter: altarpiece of the St. Jakob Church in Germany, by Friedrich Herlin (1466).

Glasses became a sort of status symbol for powerful and cultivated people and also a fashionable accessory.

Jewel spectacles by George Adams (18th Century).
Lorgnettes invented by George Adams (around 1770).
Spectacles with case of King James II (18th Century).
The spectacles with case of King James II (18th Century).

Some self portraits of artists, increasingly frequent with the artists awareness of their intellectual value, social importance and independence, show them wearing glasses while they capture the lights and the shadows, the most microscopic wrinkles, intriguing smiles and fugitive expressions of their faces.

Jean Chardin, pastel painter (1775).
Jean – Baptiste – Siméon Chardin, Self portrait, pastel, Musée du Louvre (1771).

Psychoanalysis, conscious and subconscious, Surrealism: the glasses drove artists, thinkers and writers deep into the sea of their dreams and allowed them to explore what happens inside our minds.

Portrait of the photographer Grete Stern (1929).
Grete Stern (1904-1999), photographer.
Dream N°1 by Grete Stern (1948).
Dream N°1 by Grete Stern (1948).

There are examples of women of genius that preferred to wear no other glasses than the invisible lenses of irony and poetry.

Dorothy Parker, poet, short story writer, critic and satirist.
Dorothy Parker (1863 – 1967), poet, writer, critic and satirist.


New York World (1925).

Other women preferred to use glasses to pretend to be an intellectual while pretending to be blonde…

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe (1926 -1962), actress, model and singer.

Glasses continue being very useful to observe the reality around us,

Woody Allen
Woody Allen (1935), director, actor, writer, comedian, musician.

but also to imagine a better one:

John Lennon
John Lennon (1940 – 1980), musician, singer, songwriter.