Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro is one of the most influential people in nineteenth century Portuguese culture, with a remarkable production in the areas of humoristic drawing, caricature and ceramic creation. His work represents an unsettling and ever so timeless reality and is a fundamental document for political, social, cultural and ideological study of a time period. He will forever be intimately associated with caricature and artistic ceramics, showing quality and important pieces never seen before, that today constitute a genius body of work.
Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro was born in Lisbon in 1846
In 1884, Bordallo began his ceramics production at the Fábrica de Faianças, in Caldas, with pieces of great technical work, artistic and creative quality. He developed azulejos (tiles), panels, pots, centerpieces, pitchers, plates, perfume bottles, vases and several types of sculptures of animals – something he became very famous for and the epitome of which was his world-renowned “Andorinha” (swallow), that can be found all over walls, houses and buildings around Lisbon. The lettuce-shaped plates are also a staple in any Portuguese home, especially the ones in the countryside. At A Vida Portuguesa, his sardines are one of the most sought-after products.
He became famous as well for his popular images: Zé Povinho (an image representing the poor and oppressed people of the working class), Maria da Paciência (Patient Mary), Ama das Caldas (the nanny from Caldas), the policeman, the priest, and many others. His remarkable work with ceramics was awarded a gold medal in several international exhibitions (Madrid, Antwerp, Paris and in the United States, in St. Louis). He is also a regular presence at Maison & Objet.
Today, Bordallo Pinheiro is one of the most prolific artists in the country, and the presence of one of his works almost ubiquitous in Portuguese homes. It was such a vast body of work, in fact, that he has his own museum, and an online store, where you can get a Bordallo Pinheiro piece for yourself. A vintage Bordallo Pinheiro truck also tours the city exhibiting and selling his artworks, and might just take the title for coolest truck in town!