The Face of Fornasetti

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.

The most famous recurring theme 
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. 


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