Vintage Piero Fornasetti Tema E Variazoni Porcelain Plate, Number 308, 1970s,


Vintage Piero Fornasetti Tema E Variazioni Plate,

The rare Piero Fornasetti plate is one of the most unusual Tema E Variazioni plates in the series. The owner of this plate purchased it originally in the early 1970’s from Piero Fornasetti who was a friend.

Diameter: 10.25 inches

Piero Fornasetti’s most famous work is, without a doubt, his illustrations featuring the face Lina Cavalieri, an operatic soprano. Fornasetti found her face in a 19th century magazine, turning the black and white image into an iconic representation of his work. It was known as the “Tema e Variazioni” (theme and variation) plate series.

He said: “What inspired me to create more than 500 variations on the face of a woman? I don’t know. I began to make them and I never stopped. ”

Fornasetti: Designer of Dreams, Patrick Mauries, page 192. Mauries writes: For Fornasetti, a single product never exhausted the possibilities of an idea. He loved to let his imagination roam, finding more and more layers of meaning and association in the process. Much of his work, therefore, takes the form of variations on a theme.

Favourite themes include the Sun, playing cards, harlequin, hands and- above all- an enigmatic woman’s face that he found in a 19th century French illustrated magazine and which fired him to go on creating image after image until he had turned out over 500, most of them in the form of dinner plates.. They are, in a way, a meditation on the mystery of femininity, the same face appearing, as in a dream, as a moon, a flower, a lake, a mask, a mosaic, a clock, a single disembodied eye.



For Piero Fornasetti, a single idea provided enough inspiration to create infinite variations. In fact, much of his work involved constant evolutions of specific themes. By allowing his imagination to roam freely. Fornasetti was able to constantly reinvent or reinterpret an image.

Of these themes, the most recurrent are: the sun, playing cards, harlequins, hands, self-portraits. But the most famous, the image that inspired Fornasetti to coin the title ‘Tema e Variazioni’, is the enigmatic face of a woman: the opera singer Lina Cavalieri.

He found that now iconic face as he leafed through a 19th century French magazine and became fascinated. Taking her as much as a muse and as a motif, he would return to Lina Cavalieri’s face again and again throughout his career. The archetypal classic female features, and enigmatic expression of Lina Cavalieri became Fornasetti’s most frequently used template and upon which he based more than 350 variations.

Lina Cavalieri’s face, explained Piero Fornasetti, was another archetype – a quintessentially beautiful and classic image, like a Greek statue, enigmatic like the ‘Gioconda’ and therefore able to take shape into the idea that was slowly building in his mind. It was this formal, graphic appeal (rather than Lina Cavalieri’s celebrity) that demanded such loyalty and inspired the spontaneous and ceaseless creativity of Fornasetti. For him, this face became the ultimate enduring motif. With great modesty all these works were reproduced on a series of everyday objects like the plate. Tema e Variazioni shows its variations playing with one idea.

SKU: A V1048615955 Category:

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Piero Fornasetti
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