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A museum named after an important 19th century cultural figure, the Bordalo Pinheiro Museum in Lisbon is dedicated to this multi-disciplinary artist and his fascinating body of work. With an extraordinarily creative mind, Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro (1846 – 1923), was known for taking his own approach which can be seen in this revealing museum which showcases his graphic arts, visual arts, ceramics, object design and decoration.
A reflection of the time Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro lived in, the artist would use cultural, political and social themes in his work. In his lifetime, Portugal saw a great deal of change, known as ‘Fontismo’, where industrial and technological strides were taken.
One of his strengths was his portrayal of society in graphic work, often in caricature, humorous drawings and lithographs which appeared in magazines, gazettes and periodicals of the time. Some, like A Lanterna Mágica were created and owned by Pinheiro himself; O António Maria lasted for around 25 years, filled with the intricacies of Lisboan society.
It also wouldn’t be a museum in Lisbon without reference to ceramics and tiling. With over 100 tiles, the museum showcases Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro’s skill and artistry in his uniquely painted tiles which reveal the themes of Art Nouveau and naturalistic patterns. His ceramics made using the faïence or tin-glazed technique are also kept here; these pieces alongside the tiles were made in the Fábrica de Faianças das Caldas da Rainha, the Pinheiro family factory established in 1884.
Today, visitors coming to Lisbon can take in this artist’s lifetime of work which gives an insight not only to his creative mind, but a period of Lisbon history and the people that inhabited it.