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The Face Fornasetti Just Couldn't Forget


The other day, I wrote about Piero Fornasetti (1913 - 1988) furniture designs that are among those recently revived by his son Barnaba. But it's hard to write more about Fornasetti's designs without sharing those that include a very special face, one that he made one of the most frequent subjects of art and design in the last 100 plus years: Lina Cavalieri.

Ms. Cavalieri's face is on no fewer than 500 of Fornasetti's designs. She was a famous soprano who sang opposite the great tenor voices of the early 20th century in New York's Metropolitan Opera.

It is unclear whether Fornasetti ever met Cavalieri, but he saw her face in a magazine, and apparently couldn't erase it from his mind, because he just kept painting it on nearly everything... in very imaginative and playful ways. It's a beautiful face, very enigmatic and, maybe even more than the Mona Lisa, it has taken on a life of its own through Fornisetti's works. He called this image "Julia."

Really, this is just a small sample of original works that are being produced by the same factories that made them during Fornasetti's lifetime.

 

1. Fornasetti Bookend Series

You can see that Fornasetti was highly influenced by classical design, though his works are very modern. Below, in the keyhole design, Fornasetti captures the eye of Lina Cavalieri, a design that shows up repeatedly, as in the corner table I shared a few days ago. There are 15 different designs in the Fornasetti Bookend collection.

 

 

 

2. Fornasetti Serving Trays

Dozens of Fornasetti designs are available on wooden serving trays in many shapes and sizes. Each tray is hand-carved, printed and hand painted. Below are just a few of the rectangular trays available.

 

 

 

 

3. Fornasetti Theme and Variation Plates

There is one theme and a few hundred variations on the face of Lina Cavalieri, so you have plenty to choose from, but these handmade porcelain 10.25" plates are each so diverse, so charming, you'll have to use your self control to keep from ordering all of them. These groupings are just two of 10 groupings in the Theme and Variation Plates series.

 

 

 

4. Fornasetti's Theme and Variation Glasses

Do you think Fornasetti could get enough of Lina Cavalieri's face. Did he just have a strong obsession? Or did he need a logo? Ah, well, he really creates an extremely whimsical character out of her, doesn't he. Finish your milk now, and you'll see a beauty at the bottom of your glass. Learn more about the Theme and Variation Glasses.

 

 

5. Fornasetti Backgammon and Playing Cards Sets

Beautiful, solid wood boxes with hand painted Fornasetti designs make backgammon and card playing ever so much more mysterious and fun. Just gorgeous! Check these out here.

 

 

 

 

6. Limited Edition Low-Numbered Fornasetti Lock and Key Vases

The 12" by 7" vase was only made in black and red, with 500 allotted for each color by Bitossi of Italy. On one side of the vase is a lock and the other side, the key. Amazing and very precious! Learn more here.

 

 

 

8. Fornasetti Miniature Jars

These too were made by Bitossi of Italy and each jar has two faces. They are each about 6" by 3.5" and come in four styles. Learn more about the Miniature Jars here.

 

 

 

9. Fornasetti Pillow Cushions

The Theme and Variations are carried through to interior textiles by Luciano Marcato of Italy. These 15" 100 percent cotton pillows have a beautiful "Julia" on each side and come in several patterns. To learn more about them, follow this link.

 

 

There are even more designs of Piero Fornasetti available from Unica Home, many with the lovely face of Lina Cavaliero, and others equally dazzling with other of Fornasetti's drawings.  Amazon also has a good collection of his work.