Manuel Gustavo Bordalo Pinheiro # 3: a ceramicist beginning (1900s)

Complete and multifaceted artist, creator of a vast body of graphic work and innovations in ceramics, melding Art Nouveau with the naturalist tradition of Caldas da Rainha.


"Common “Camoeza” Apple" (1900-08-29) by Manuel Gustavo Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro


In 1900, Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro founded the newspaper 'A Parodia'. By then, he had reached a state of exhaustion, which gave Manuel Gustavo the space to explore the many innovations in the field of graphic arts that were being experimented with in Europe.

In 'A Parodia', Manuel Gustavo presented some of his best graphic work through his use of colour and friezes with repeating motifs, many of them with flowers and animals, which he later transposed onto ceramics with interesting decorative results. The influence of Art Nouveau can be seen in the plant motifs he selected as backdrops and in the design of the frames surrounding the illustrations.

"The Parody" (1900-01-17) by Rafael e Manuel Gustavo Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

In 1900, a collaboration with A Parodia gave Manuel Gustavo an opportunity to make a definitive mark in the field as a humourist.

"Back from the Exhibition" (1900-11-14) by Rafael Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

1900 was a golden year in which Manuel Gustavo accompanied his father to Paris for the Exposition Universelle, a trip amply documented in the pages of A Parodia.

"Common “Camoeza” Apple" (1900-08-29) by Manuel Gustavo Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

Adaptation of an illustration from the German humour magazine Jugend, published in Munich from 1896 to 1940.

German humour magazines were by far the artist's most important reference and source of inspiration.

"The Bag of Bones" (1901-07-24) by Manuel Gustavo Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

Some of the artist's finest illustrations were published in A Parodia, which featured repetitive friezes and a broad use of colour.

The Art Nouveau style, which he encountered in Paris, came to influence his work from 1900 onwards, as can be seen in the frames with undulating lines featured in various illustrations during this period.

"Manuel Gustavo's Parody in A Parodia" (1901-09-18) by Celso HerminioMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

In 1903, Manuel Gustavo participated in the 2nd exhibition of the Sociedade de Belas Artes in Lisboa, along with Francisco Valença.

"His Worst Work" (1903-06-11) by Manuel Gustavo Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

In June 1903, on the occasion of the tribute to Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro at the D. Maria II Theater, in Lisbon, Manuel Gustavo humorously depicted himself as his 'worst work', capturing in a single image what he had always struggled to achieve: his father's respect.

As for Rafael and how he viewed his son, we know that

what pleased him the most was to see Manuel Gustavo laughing. (…) Given his grandfather's strict disciplining and Manuel Gustavo's admiration for his father's genius, he was not accustomed to flaunting his favour in front of Bordallo, who regretted that he could not enjoy his son's spirit. That night at Carnival, Tomaz Bordalo (...) found him hiding behind a column of the D. Maria Theatre. - 'What are you doing there?' he asked. / - 'I'm watching Manuel having a laugh with his friends!...'

[Joaquim Leitão, O Poço que Ri, Anais das Bibliotecas, Museus e Arquivo Histórico Municipais, 1936]

"Bad Weather" (1902-03-05) by Jorge CidMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

Manuel Gustavo oversaw the publication of A Parodia alongside Jorge Cid, Manuel Monterroso and Celso Hermínio, whose bonds of friendship extended beyond their work at the periodical.

Celso Herminio and Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro

Manuel Gustavo and the illustrator of the drawing, Jorge Cid.

Gold Medal Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904)Museu Bordalo Pinheiro

In 1904, Manuel Gustavo assisted his father in organising the Faience Factory's participation in an exhibition in St. Louis, USA, where they were awarded a Gold medal.

"Four Nations Hotel" (1905-03-31) by Manuel Gustavo Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

International issues were front and centre in the pages of A Parodia.

The national context was marked by the colonial issue and Portugal's foreign debt, which had left the country in an acutely vulnerable position with respect to the European powers, particularly Great Britain, a situation widely commented on in the press at the time.

"Return Ticket" (1903-10-08) by Rafael Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

Manuel Gustavo was a devoted companion to his father, whose worsening health led to his death on 23 January 1905.

Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro (c. 1904) by Arnaldo da FonsecaMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

The death of his father was a huge blow to Manuel Gustavo.

"Before the Start" (1905-02-23) by Manuel Gustavo Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

In an emotional letter to readers, he wrote:

'Our mission is not to "continue", which would be too heavy a responsibility, but to "begin", which is responsibility enough.’

Taking the helm of A Parodia, he implemented new marketing strategies by introducing colour and new printing techniques.

"The Portuguese Press in Paris" (1905-12-22) by Manuel Gustavo Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

In December 1905, Manuel Gustavo was awarded a medal from France's Legion of Honour for having been a member of King Carlos's press delegation in Paris.

Invitation to a ceramics exhibition (1906-05-25)Museu Bordalo Pinheiro

Manuel Gustavo took over the Faience Factory and held his first exhibition of ceramics in May 1906 at his studio on Rua António Maria Cardoso, in Lisbon:

'This exhibition is the fruit of my efforts as a ceramicist who is just beginning (...) my thought was that I would not allow Caldas da Rainha's traditional faience to die out as Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro had done'.

Manuel Gustavo’s Studio (1906-06-11)Original Source: Hemeroteca Municipal de Lisboa

Manuel Gustavo’s studio, view of the 1906 exhibition (1907-02-25)Original Source: Hemeroteca Municipal de Lisboa

The reaction to his show in the press was encouraging:

'This was a Success. For the first time in Lisbon, he has ceased to be a sportsman, a marksman in a weapons room, an oarsman at a Cascais regatta, and has instead become, exclusively, an Artist'.

[Ilustração Portuguesa, 25.02.1907]

"Manuel Gustavo in Porto" (1907-05-04) by Manuel MonterrosoMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

The Parodia continued to be published until 1907, a period in which João Chagas contributed commentaries and Manuel Gustavo was frequently absent because of his ceramic exhibitions.

Ceramic's exhibition in the Salon of Ilustração Portuguesa (1907-03-11)Original Source: Hemeroteca Municipal de Lisboa

The period between 1907 and 1908 posed the greatest challenge for Manuel Gustavo following the issue of an attachment order on the then-mortgaged Faience Factory and its subsequent purchase by Godinho Leal.

During this period, Manuel organised three exhibitions of his ceramics:

The first, in homage to his father and graced by the presence of King Carlos, took place in the Salon of the periodical Ilustração Portuguesa.

[Ilustração Portuguesa, 11.03.1907]

Ceramic's exhibition in the Salon of Ilustração Portuguesa (1907-03-04)Original Source: Hemeroteca Municipal de Lisboa

"Manoel Gustavo’s Ceramic Works" (1907-02-01)Original Source: Hemeroteca Municipal de Lisboa

The other two, held in his studio and at the Sociedade de Belas Artes in Porto, featured 'polychrome terracotta', which José Queirós hailed as a 'new expression of Art in Portuguese ceramics'.

[Ilustração Portuguesa, 01.07.1907]

Vase "Female figure" (1909) by Manuel Gustavo Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

On par with his graphic work, Manuel Gustavo founded the Bordalo Pinheiro Factory in Caldas da Rainha in 1908, the successor to the Fábrica de Faianças das Caldas da Rainha which had been bought in a public auction by Manuel Godinho Leal following the death of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro.

After a long drawn out battle in the courts, in which he managed to recover the original moulds from his father's ceramic pieces, Manuel Gustavo continued Rafael's ceramic work, in keeping with the latter's final will.These were years of tremendous financial difficulties in which he relied on the support of many of the Faience Factory's former employees, as well as the press and art critics, including José de Figueiredo and José Queirós, who rallied to his defence from early on.

He distinguished himself as a ceramicist whose vast oeuvre, both eclectic and modern, assimilated the basic elements of local traditional ceramics and featured pieces with cleaner lines in the manner of Art Nouveau.

Jug with a frieze of ducks (1907) by Manuel Gustavo Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

Presented for the first time in 1907, the 'polychrome terracotta' were the highlight of the Lisbon exhibition in 1909, capturing the attention of the critics. Stylised in design, their repetitive friezes and figurative medallions reflect the personal taste of Manuel Gustavo and his training in graphic outlines.

Manuel Gustavo Bordalo Pinheiro (c. 1907) by Photographia ModernaMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

On 5 November 1908, Manuel Gustavo inaugurated the new Bordalo Pinheiro Factory.

Accompanying him were workers from the old factory, which ensured a level of quality and production that had earned the factory a gold medal at an exhibition in Rio de Janeiro.

Manuel Gustavo and friends in Caldas da Rainha (1908-07-01)Museu Bordalo Pinheiro

Caldas da Rainha was a wellspring of both work and pleasure.

In the Summer of 1908, Manuel Gustavo, accompanied by his friends, posed for a photograph in front of a modern automobile.

"3rd Exhibition" (1909) by Manuel Gustavo Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Bordalo Pinheiro

In 1909, in the catalogue of his 3rd exhibition, Manuel Gustavo wrote:

'I was evicted from the building housing the Factory my father founded. I had to launch an appeal in the courts, which happily redressed the injustice, and I took repossession of the property and all of the moulds (...) Despite incalculable difficulties, I managed to erect a small factory in the space of a few months. (...) I am excited by the idea that perhaps one day, I shall meet someone who will provide me with the means to expand to the great centres of Europe and America and to work alas with tranquillity and resolution. This is the hope that enlivens me.’

"Exhibition of Manuel Gustavo’s Ceramic Works" (1909-06-28)Original Source: Hemeroteca Municipal de Lisboa

Decorative plate "Parrot" by "Bordallo Pinheiro/Portugal"Museu Bordalo Pinheiro

This plate, part of a set of eight, is an example of the impressive application of graphic design to ceramic art in which the plasticity of the material is exploited.

Credits: Story

João Alpuim Botelho e Gisela Miravent

Mariana Caldas de Almeida

Mariana Caldas de Almeida e Pedro Bebiano Braga

Cláudia Jorge Freire

Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa/Fotográfico
Casa-Museu Dr. Anastácio Gonçalves
Fábrica Bordallo Pinheiro – Casa Museu San Raphael
Hemeroteca Municipal de Lisboa
Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado

Kennis Translations

Continue your visit in:
Parte 1: Manuel Gustavo Bordalo Pinheiro # I: paving the way (1867 - 1870s)
Parte 2: Manuel Gustavo Bordalo Pinheiro # II: drawing stories (1880s - 1890s)
Parte 4: Manuel Gustavo Bordalo Pinheiro # IV: humor in daily life (1910 - 1920)

Credits: All media
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