Who’s The Girl on the Fornasetti Plates?
Many luxurious houses are decked with a Fornasetti plate, candle, or pillow. Chances are, those pieces have this beautiful face of a woman. She is depicted with a moustache, peeping from a keyhole, as a clown, as a hot air balloon, and even either as Adolf Hitler or Charlie Chaplin. Fornasetti’s entire brand is built on this face. Some might call her as “The Fornasetti Face” or “ The Fornasetti Girl” but to those who have done their research, that face is a real persona named Lina Cavalieri.
Lina Cavalieri was an opera singer and at some point, was called as the most beautiful woman in the world. The iconic face ranaway from a Roman Catholic orphanage at the age of 15 to join a travelling theatre group. From there, Lina found her calling as an opera singer. Lina was dubbed to be a real life Venus, the goddess of love, sex, and fertility. Through the years, Lina has collected a number of wealthy (ex) husbands, from a Russian Prince to a wealthy wine dealer. Reading through all the men she married, one can even say that she was a lowkey version of Elizabeth Taylor. While Taylor has hundreds of movies to document her face, Cavalieri had plates, pillows, candles, and so on to immortalize her beauty. At some point, she was the face of soap brand Palmolive. Some even called her “Mona Lina” for her perfect face.
Many might think that Lina was Fornasetti’s wife or the love of his life, the muse and the artist never actually met. While they were alive at the same time at some point, Lina passed away on 1944. She died when their house was bombed in Florence during the Second World War, rumor has it that she was trying to save her jewellery when the bomb hit the house. Fornasetti only saw her face in 1952, while viewing magazines and books. The moment Fornasetti saw Lina’s face, he has set her as the ultimate muse. He sketched her face since he saw it and never stopped. In interviews, Fornasetti is often asked why he chose Lina as his muse. The artist replies, “I don’t know. I began to make them and never stopped.”
Fornasetti has created hundreds of variations of Lina’s face, from an animal, thief, arab princes, a mask, and even as a man. The variations of her face are endless, just visit the Fornasetti website or visit stores that distribute Fornasetti, you’ll be shocked on how many ways her face can be used. But at the end of the day, there can only be one Lina Cavalieri.