Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro

Stood out, among other activities, as a man of the press. For 35 years (from 1870 to 1905) he was the soul of the newspapers he managed whether in Portugal, whether in the three years he worked in Brazilian lands

Bordallo’s publications

Weekly, during the referred decades, his publications versed over the Portuguese society in the most diverse quadrants, in a systematic and sharp way.

Raphael Augusto Prostes Bordallo Pinheiro, son of Manuel Maria Bordallo Pinheiro and D. Maria Maria Augusta do Ó Carvalho Prostes, was born in Lisbon on March 21st of 1846, in the middle of a family of artists.

He lived in a time characterized by the economic and political crisis, however as a man of the press he knew how to keep an inarguable independence regarding the established powers, regulating always by the exemption of thought and practicing the freedom of opinion. This attitude earned him such a public support that, despite the attempts, censorship was never able to silence him.

Thus, every Thursday, the usual day of Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro’s publications, the reader and the observer were able to count with episodes of the Portuguese society married to the critic to which fun was added.



He started in 1870 with three publications:O Calcanhar de Aquiles, A Berlinda e O Binóculo, the latter, a caricature weekly about shows and literature, perhaps the first newspaper in Portugal to be sold inside the theaters.

O Binóculo presented as follows: “O Binóculo presents, doesn’t comment. Analyzes, doesn’t synthetizes. Shows the types. And of types is our century. Archetype or prototype, doesn’t matter. The type has today the biggest importance. Our century only admires types. “

And ahead, it added: “the binocular is the instrument that the reader, the spectator or the amateur uses to closer see the scenes that would easily be unnoticed. It shows the good and the bad: and that is the justification of its title. Whoever has eyes, see it; whoever doesn’t want to see, sleep”.

This is how Bordallo treated, during the three months the publication lasted, the theatrical and the opera world that cheered the evening of the Lisbon nights.





However, it was with A Lanterna Mágica, in 1875, that Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro inaugurate the time of regular activity as a journalist. Before that he had made appear and disappear several publications, like Berlinda and O Calcanhar de Aquiles are examples of.

His passage by the Illustrated London News was also an activity he developed before A Lanterna Mágica.

The newspaper proposed to treat “the week’s events”, or actually, the fait-divers of the Lisbon day-to-day. For this, every Saturday, for 60 réis, the public could read the embarrassments and disembarrassment of the Portuguese capital.

“Illustrade magazines of the Week’s Events by Gil Vaz”, it was possible to read in the subheading of A Lanterna Mágica. Regarding Gil Vaz, it was the collective pseudonym with which hid Guilherme de Azevedo and Guerra Junqueiro.

This newspaper ends when Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro left to Brazil, thus revealing the his relevance in the newspaper’s organization.


Creativity beyond the Atlantic

In Brazil, before O Besouro there was Psit!!!

In the comical weekly Psit!!!, similarly to what came to happen in O Besouro, it was satirized Brazil’s political and social scenario in the end of the 19th century. It lasted only two months, from September to November of 1877, and was, subsequently replaced by O Besouro.



Bordallo, in O Besouro called the attention, especially from the politician who felt ridiculed with the caricature representations that ornamented the pages of O Besouro.

This presented with the following introduction:

“Long live joy! Long live the caricature! He have been dragging among you a silkworm existence. Whether on top or below the page. Pierced the cocoon due to the lack of warm water to kil the bug, out came the butterfly that ephemeral lived and died with the name Psit. There came the seed that produced the beetle [besouro]. Metamorphosed today in the corpulent Besouro, with the lungs well supplied with air, we will sting again and with confidence our old flag. We will live much and we will live well if we have the fortune to please you and to amuse you. (…) O Besouro will always fly around the shining light of all events and of all cases, without getting burned.”

Bordallo, in Brazil, exchanged moments of tension with other caricaturist, Angelo Agostini, an Italian also settled in the country.

The dispute, taken to the pages of O Besouro, gained importance and Agostini obtain the public’s favoritism. After two assassination attempts, Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro went back to Lisbon, in 1879, closing this publication.


Back to Portugal

Back do Portugal, Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro founded O António Maria, a political humor newspaper which knew two series: the first, between June of 1879 and January of 1885; the second between March of 1891 and July of 1898.

O António Maria assumed itself as chronicle about the Portuguese society in the last quarter of the 19th century and, consequently, a source of endless information.

 The rotativismo that characterized the end of the constitutional monarchy, in Portugal, was strongly scrutinized in this publication.

With a strong aesthetic worry in graphics, O António Maria was destined to be collected, as it was possible to verify through the continuous numeration of its pages throughout every year and the reference in the footnote to the number of the “Volume” and of the “Year”.



Three months after the suspension of O António Maria it was born, in the same editorial line, even though with less elaborate graphics, the Ponto nos ii.

The same 60 réis of the other publications allowed the access to eight pages of satire and humor about the state of the country. Political humor, besides highlighting the constant change between “progressive” and “regenerators” highlighted the events of the colonial policy.

But Ponto nos ii goes beyond the constant action of political caricature. In its pages there was also space for the news, the chronicle and even the story of the most varied events: the cultural offer that amused Lisbon and Oporto; the literary activity; the glamour of the parties and the balls and the disasters and the most shocking crimes.

The publication’s republican tone took it to pay a high price. The newspaper’s suspension was dictated after it maniefest “Glory to the defeated!”, referring to the republic uprising of the 31st of January 31, 1891.




A Paródia

Besides having founded A Paródia, Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro was also its director, until January of 1905.

In 1903, with the title change to Paródia: Comédia portuguesa, the result of the fusion between A Paródiaand the magazine Comédia Portuguesa, led by Julião Machado and Marcelino Mesquita, the latter transited to the new paper as literary director. Bordallo Pinheiro appeared referenced, for the first time, as artistic director.

A Paródia was defined, in an editorial signed by Bordallo and Manuel Gustavo, as “the caricature at the service of the great public sadness”, “the dance of the Bica neighborhood at the Prazeres cemetery”. This publications was beyond the political satire - “somos nós todos”, it intended to be the Portuguese social portrait.

For A Paródia’s success much contributed the quality of the illustration and the laughter that Bordallo’s drawings caused in their readers. The artist reached here the peak of his artistic work as a caricaturist.

O Zé Povinho

Zé Povinho is a satirical character of the social critic, created by Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro and adopted as the national Portuguese personification.

It appeared for the 1st time in A Lanterna Mágica in 1975 and it was present in all of Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro's publications, as well as his other activities. Zé Povinho became an iconic and ethernal character for Portugal and its people.



Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro – the journalist, drawer, aquarellist, decorator, political and social caricaturist, ceramist and teacher – died at the age of 58, on January 23rd of 1905.

His namely is closely linked to the development of the caricature and of the journalistic satire in Portugal, of which he was a pioneer and a big promoter, printing it a personal style and quality never before reached.