Fornasetti Plates: A Comprehensive Guide

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Winking. Masked. Take a breather. They were piercing their noses. Lina Cavalieri was a 19th-century operatic soprano with many characters. Most artists have a muse, but we are still determining how the famously devoted Milanese sculptor, painter, and engraver Piero Fornasetti became infatuated with Cavalieri. But we must admit that his comic art is challenging to resist. Themes and Variations, his home décor line’s signature collection, contains hundreds of distinct variants of the famous visage. Although the vases and candles are lovely, our current obsession is with the Fornasetti plates.

These jagged faces add an unexpected spark to any decor, whereas traditional china designs displayed on walls have always felt a touch too traditional for our tastes. We love how a few Fornasetti plates can radically transform a place, especially when the succession of faces tells a story. Whether you use a few plates to cover a bookcase or a whole wall, Fornasetti plates are the perfect accent for a stylish house. With the holidays approaching, a Fornesseti piece is the ultimate luxury gift to start someone’s collection!   

When costly porcelain is blended with decorative art, little marvels of Italian design are created.

The Tema e Variazioni series is in high demand due to its endless variety of themes. Furthermore, the variation in detail in the various masterpieces adds to the enjoyment of collecting the numerous works of art.

It’s no secret that we adore Fornasetti dinnerware. Piero Fornasetti is an Italian painter, sculptor, interior designer, and engraver. More than 11,000 of his goods feature the face of opera soprano Lina Cavalieri as a motif. Fornasetti identified her in a 19th-century journal. “What inspired me to create more than 500 variations on the face of a woman?” asks Italian artist Piero Fornasetti. He responds, “I don’t know; I started making them and never stopped.” More than 350 plates were made in the “Tema e Variazioni” (theme and variation) plate series with Cavalieri’s face.

Do they complement each other? It’s easy to see why they’d become popular as wallpaper patterns so soon. Good ideas, as well as beautiful artwork and illustrations, have numerous applications. The “Theme & Variation” plates are now printed on almost every subject imaginable, including dinnerware and wallpaper.


The hand-applied gold and platinum embellishments add a dazzling touch to the ornamentation—a Fornasetti ode to the face’s golden proportions, which have been deconstructed and reconstructed numerous times.

Piero Fornasetti created a collection of home goods with over 350 renditions of Lina Cavalieri’s face out of a love that some may call obsession. Like other pieces in his substantial body of work, the Milanese artist’s housewares heavily use black and white as well as Greek and Roman architecture.

Fornasetti first depicted the Italian opera diva known as the “most beautiful woman in the world” in a 19th-century French magazine. Then, in 1952, Fornasetti began modifying her looks as he thought fit.

Piero Fornasetti’s son Barnaba Fornasetti has been in charge since his father died in the 1980s. He has added a few new collections that complement his father’s varied and distinctive design.

“From a single concept, Piero Fornasetti created countless variations.” In reality, many of his works contained the continual development of specific ideas. He accomplished this by allowing his imagination to run free. As a result, Fornasetti can rebuild or reframe an image constantly.

The most common topics are the sun, cards, harlequins, hands, and self-portraits. But, on the other hand, the image that inspired Fornasetti’s title Tema e Variazioni is the intriguing face of a woman: opera singer Lina Cavalieri.

Wrapping Up

Lina Cavalieri, a classical beauty with a mysterious appearance, was featured in a late-nineteenth-century magazine. Piero Fornasetti was captivated by her and generated a seemingly infinite amount of permutations, multiples, games, lyrical conceptions, and metaphysical images of her face. Lina’s face is instantly recognizable no matter how it is reimagined—suggestive, enigmatic, shocked, sensual, with a mustache, glasses, a crown, or a balaclava. A piece of art that has come to symbolize Fornasetti and his poetics.

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