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Cultural Issues

Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro
(21 March 1846, Lisbon - 23 January 1905, Lisbon)

Was a Portuguese artist known for his illustration, caricatures, sculpture and ceramics designs.


He was disciple of his father, the painter Manuel Maria Bordalo Pinheiro and brother of painter Columbano. He started publishing is illustration and caricatures in humoristic magazines like A Berlinda, O Calcanhar de Aquiles showing an ironic, often sarcastic, humour mocking politics or social and cultural situations. In 1875 travelled to Brazil to work as illustrator and cartoonist in a review called Mosquito and there he also became the editor of other humourous, political critic magazines. His fame as a caricaturist brought the invitation of Illustrated London News to became one of his collaborators.

Zé Povinho and comics

In 1875, Bordalo Pinheiro created the cartoon character Zé Povinho, a Portuguese everyman, portrayed as a poor peasant. Zé Povinho first appearance was in 1875-05-22, at A Lanterna Mágica magazine, but with no name. He was named later, in the 1875-06-12 edition of the same magazine. Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro kept drawing this character for almost 30 years, until his death, publishing it in many of the more popular magazines and newspapers: O António Maria, A Paródia, O Commércio do Porto Illustrado, Pontos nos iis, among others.
Zé Povinho became, and still is, the most popular character in Portugal. Being drawn as a yokel could, and does, lead to some aversion and denial from the Portuguese people to be represented as such. Yet his kindness, his will to help others and, most of all, his utter contempt and disrespect for the powerful ones that try to dominate him, made him so popular. Zé Povinho ridicules the powerful, laughs at them, and then carries on with his simple life but has the same attitude towards the peoples own weaknesses and prejudice.
Also, either with Zé Povinho as with other work, Bordalo Pinheiro drawing style was important and influential. He was the first Portuguese comics creator, making extensive use of onomatopoeias, graphical signs (as those to represent movement), strong images (the manguito) and even created a unique style of mixing punctuation marks, such as brackets, and drawing.


In 1885, he founded a ceramics factory in Caldas da Rainha, where he created many of the pottery designs for which this city is known. The factory is still in business



Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro:

Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, a Portuguese ceramist - Cover Story:

Museu Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro:

Faianças Artísticas Bordalo Pinheiro Ltd: