Bordalo Pinheiro

Other Names: Rafael Augusto Bordalo Prostes Pinheiro | Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro | Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro
  • Analysis
  • Biography
    Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro (Lisbon, Portugal, 1846 - idem, 1905). Caricaturist, potter. From an artistic family, began his artistic career as an actor in the theatre, attending the School of Dramatic Arts in 1860. In the following year, he started the superior course in Literature at the Lisbon Academy of Fine Arts, where he also took courses, albeit without completing them, in civil architectural drawing, artistic drawing and live model drawing. In 1868, he joined the Sociedade Promotora das Belas Artes [Society for the Promotion of Fine Arts], taking part in exhibitions promoted by the same institution. In the following year, he published his first caricatures in the newspaper, A Revolução de Setembro [The September Revolution] and began producing these for his first album, O Calcanhar de Aquiles [Achilles' Heel], published in Lisbon in 1870. In the same year, he founded the periodicals, A Berlinda [The Carriage]1 and O Binóculo [The Binocular]. In 1871, he was awarded a prize at the Madrid International Exhibition, for his work Bodas d'Aldeia [Village Wedding]. In 1872, he published the album, Apontamentos sobre a Picaresca Viagem do Imperador do Rasilb pela Europa [Notes on the Picaresque Voyage of the Emperor of Raslib to Europe], in which he satirised the Emperor, Dom Pedro II (1825 - 1891). In 1875, he moved to Brazil, where he founded the magazine, Lanterna Mágica [Magic Lantern], in which he created the character of Zé Povinho [Joe Public]. In the same year, he worked on the magazine, O Mosquito [The Mosquito], together with Angelo Agostini (1843 - 1910). In 1876, he worked on O Fígaro [Figaro] with Cândido de Faria (1849 - 1911). In 1877, he founded Psit! [Psst!] and in the following year, O Besouro [The Beetle], showing a number of caricatures satirising local politicians. After suffering two attempts on his life in Rio de Janeiro, he returned to Portugal in 1879. In 1880, together with other Portuguese artists, he created the Grupo do Leão [Lion Group] which introduced Naturalism into Portuguese art, moving away from Academic Art. In 1885, he founded the Fábrica de Faianças [Faience Factory] in Caldas da Rainha, which revitalised the production of ceramics in this region, and whose output won a prize at the Paris International Exhibition in 1889. As the chief builder of the Portuguese Pavilion, he was made a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur by the French government.

    Critical Commentary
    A pioneer in the genre of caricature in Portugal, Bordalo Pinheiro was already an acknowledged artist when he came to Brazil, in 1875. The publication of the album, O Calcanhar de Achilles [Acchilles' Heel], in 1870, in which he satirized a number of figures of Lisbon's literary milieu, was followed by others, like the Apontamentos de Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro sobre a Picaresca Viagem do Imperador do Rasilb pela Europa [Notes of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro on the Picaresque Voyage of Rasilb's Emperor to Europe], 1872, and História Tétrica duma Empresa Lírica [Gruesome History of a Lyric Company], 1873, a collection of cartoons portraying prominent Portuguese actors of the period. Such creations helped spread his prestige, as well as his fame as an irreverent and controversial artist. The Apontamentos de Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, an album made up of more than one hundred drawings presented as comic strips satirizing the emperor Dom Pedro II (1825 - 1891), reached great success.

    In the early 1870s, he worked for the periodicals A Berlinda [Forfeits] and O Binóculo [The Binocular], founded by him, and other Portuguese publications, collaborating as well with the magazines Ilustración Española y Americana [Spanish and American Illustration] and El Mundo Cómico [The Comic World], from Madrid, and the Illustrated London News, from London. However, it was in Lanterna Mágica [Magic Lantern], a periodical he founded together with Guilherme de Azevedo (1839 - 1882) and Abílio Guerra Junqueiro (1850 - 1923), in 1875, that Pinheiro introduced his most well-known character, the astute and smart Zé Povinho [Everyman Joe], who would become a Portuguese national symbol.

    During his sojourn in Brazil, between 1875 and 1879, he produced a large quantity of political cartoons and caricatures of prominent figures for several publications in Rio de Janeiro, showing inventiveness and a rare boldness for the Brazilian context of the time. Among the illustrations published by O Mosquito [The Mosquito], anticlerical cartoons and political satires were frequent. Dom Pedro II was portrayed in numerous political cartoons of the time. One of them, from 1876, entitled A Questão Religiosa [The religious question], shows the emperor offering his hand to the ferule of Pope Pio IX, in an attitude of submission to the demands of the church.

    In 1877, he published the periodical, Psit!, introducing the characters Psit and Arolae, and, in the following year, O Besouro [The beetle], for which he created the character Fagundes. In 1878, he engaged in a public dispute with Angelo Agostini (1843 - 1910), through a series of cartoons published weekly by him in O Besouro, and by Agostini in the Revista Ilustrada [Illustrated Magazine].

    His political and social satires of the monarchy brought him hostility and disaffection from influential politicians, a likely motive for the two assassination attempts he suffered, as well as for his decision to return to Portugal in 1879. In this year, in Lisbon, he founded together with Guilherme de Azevedo the periodical António Maria, an illustrated newspaper in which Bordalo reviewed the most relevant aspects of the Portuguese political, social and artistic scenes throughout nearly a decade. In Portugal, he was also confronted by his political views. To replace the periodical António Maria, he founded, in 1885, together with his son, Manuel Gustavo Bordalo Pinheiro, the newspaper Pontos nos ii [Dot the iis] which would be closed in 1891 as a result of censorship imposed on an article on the Porto Revolution. From 1891 to 1898, he resumed the publication of António Maria, again presenting the character Zé Povinho, his favorite spokesman.

    In 1880, he founded, together with the artists Antonio Ramalho, João Vaz (1859 - 1931), José Malhoa (1854 - 1933), António Carvalho da Silva Porto (1850 - 1893) and Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro (1857 - 1929), among others, the Lion Group, so called because they used to meet at the Golden Lion coffee shop, in Lisbon. At odds with academicism, the group was the driving force behind the naturalist renovation of Portuguese art. In the same year, he published the first installments of the Álbum das Glórias [Album of Glories], made up by more than forty drawings, known as portraits-charges, collecting illustrations portraying prominent figures. The second installment was published in 1885 and the third in 1902. In a famous caricature mocking the frequent voyages made by the emperor, Bordalo portrayed Dom Pedro II wearing a frock coat in a hotel room, his scepter and his crown placed on a chair, and his opened suitcase revealing a toucan cloak.

    In 1884, together with his brother Feliciano Bordalo Pinheiro (1847 - 1905), he founded the Faience Factory, located in the town of Caldas da Rainha, devoting himself to the production of ceramics. In 1889, he supervised the construction of the Portuguese pavilion at the Paris International Exposition, where he exhibited some of his ceramic pieces, for which he was awarded the gold and silver medals. He collaborated in several Portuguese publications, drawing illustrations and book covers. In 1899, he traveled to Rio de Janeiro, where he exhibited his Beethoven Jar, at the Ouvidor Street, later presented as a gift to then president, Campos Sales, and currently part of the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes - MNBA [National Museum of Fine Arts] collection.

    In 1900, he published in A Paródia [The Parody], a series of cartoons representing, among other subjects, politics (A Grande Porca [The Big Pig]), finance (O Grande Cão [The Big Dog]), economy (A Galinha Choca [The Hatching Chicken]) and parliamentary rhetoric (O Grande Papagaio [The Big Parrot]). The poet Artur Ernesto de Santa Cruz Magalhães, an admirer and collector of Bordalo's works, opened in his house the Museum Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, in 1916, after Bordalo's death. The museum, which exhibited Bordalo's graphic and ceramic works, was incorporated to the municipality in 1924. Its collection expanded over time by donations made by the artist's family and incorporations from private collections.

    For Pedro Correia do Lago, though Bordalo Pinheiro made a significant contribution to the development of caricature in the Brazilian press, his drawings, in pen and ink or in lithography, more free and stylized, did not manage to impose his style, probably due to the strong influence of Angelo Agostini, author of more detailed and precise drawings.2 However, despite the short duration of his sojourn in Rio de Janeiro, the prestige of Bordalo Pinheiro in the local cultural milieu was notable.


    1 Literally a 'carriage', used figuratively to refer to an individual who becomes the subject of (usually adverse) attention and comments.
    2 LAGO, Pedro Corrêa do. Caricaturistas brasileiros: 1836-1999. Rio de Janeiro: Sextante Artes, 1999.



Research Source

CiTi - Centro de Investigação para Tecnologias Interactivas. Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Disponível em []. Acesso em: 23 de out. 2004.

HENRIQUES, Paulo (curador). Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro - o português tal e qual: da caricatura a cerâmica. O ceramista. São Paulo: Pinacoteca do Estado, 1996.

LAGO, Pedro Corrêa do. Caricaturistas brasileiros: 1836-1999. Rio de Janeiro: Sextante Artes, 1999. 215 p., il. color.

LAGO, Pedro Corrêa do. Caricaturistas brasileiros: 1836-1999. Rio de Janeiro: Sextante Artes, 1999. p.40-47

LIMA, Herman. Os precursores (conclusão). In: _____. História da caricatura no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1963. v. 3, p. 881-899, il. p&b. color.

MARTINS, Rocha. Pequena História da Imprensa Portuguesa. Lisboa: Editora Inquérito Ltda, s.d. (Cadernos Inquérito, série G, Crítica e História Literária, XV).

PINTO, Manoel de Sousa: Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro: o caricaturista. Desenhos escolhidos por Manuel Gustavo Bordallo Pinheiro. Lisboa: Livraria Ferreira, Ferreira Ltda. Editores, 1915.

SODRÉ, Nelson Werneck. História da imprensa no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Civilização Brasileira, 1966. 583 p. (Retratos do Brasil, 51)