Fornasetti often stated, "I want my plate to speak to me. It must make me think, challenge my reactions, bring a message, stimulate a fantasy." "Tema E Variazioni" demonstrates his impulse to play with and expand on an idea. What began as a series of six plain white plates decorated with different monochromatic images of one woman's face developed over the years until it encompassed over 500 variations of the theme. When asked about this obsession, Fornasetti characteristically responded, "I don't know, I began to make them, and I never stopped." As Patrick Mauris observes, "They are in their own way a meditation on the mystery of femininity."
cf. Patrick Mauris, Fornasetti: Designer of Dreams (Victoria & Albert Museum exh. cat.), pp. 192-201, for a discussion of this series; Also see Martin Eidelberg, Design 1935-1965: What Modern Was (Les Muse Des Arts Dcoratifs de Montral exh. cat.), pp. 272-273; Andrew Olds, "Piero Fornasetti", ID, 1990, pp.14-15