Destinations / November 28, 2018. By Susan Connolly
Bordallo Pinheiro is one of my favourite souvenirs from Portugal, a unique brand of ceramics that is so special because it is representative of the country and its culture. The creator was one of the most talented and entertaining Portuguese artists from the latter half of the 19th century.
Bordallo’s work mainly included drawing and ceramics but also covered the decorative arts and and comic strips. He was a defender of the Republic during the Portuguese monarchy and always interested in the fight against injustice. Humour and caricature were his chosen weapons. He created the character of Zé Povinho ( literallly Joe Little person), who symbolises the Portuguese everyday man to this day.
In 1884 Bordallo was one of the founders of the Faience Factory in Caldas da Rainha, a city 75km north of Lisbon. Here he applied his enormous talent to the creation of artistic pieces. His designs were inspired by Portuguese culture, its culinary heritage and natural environment. His goal was to create everyday tableware to the design standards of porcelain pieces – the preserve of the upper classes. Bordallo wanted veg, flowers, insects and fish at the table. A cabbage leaf bowl, a snail perching on the edge of a cabbage leaf plate, and vivid red tomato-shaped bowls sitting beside tomato coloured tureens.
The company’s way of working hasn’t changed much in the intervening years. Products are almost entirely handmade. After the first firing a team of artists hand paint the pieces. A second firing completes the process.
If you are looking for a unique Portuguese souvenir look no further than the Bordallo Pinheiro shop in Lisbon and if you don’t have a trip to Lisbon on the cards you can shop for Bordallo Pinheiro on amazon.