The Past, Present and the Future of Caldas da Rainha Ceramics
In this article we will approach Caldas da Rainha ceramics, a land rich in hot springs, which dictated the foundation of the city, the clay existing in the region gave rise to one of the most recognized Arts of Caldas da Rainha – Ceramics.
Since the creation of the Thermal Hospital in the XV century until the XX century, the ceramic tradition has followed the city’s history, a presence that is still alive today, a mark of identity and recognition, national and international.
For those who visit the city, Caldas da Rainha tableware does not go unnoticed and there are many places of traditional commerce where you can buy a souvenir, within the wide range that ceramic production offers, the store Mercado da Loiça is a reference in that respect.
In addition, you can also appreciate this art so intrinsically linked to the city in several buildings where the exterior tile coverings provide unforgettable scenery.
If you are still not satisfied, you still have three museological spaces where ceramics is approached from various points of view, they are the Ceramics Museum, the Bordallo Pinheiro Museum and the José Malhoa Museum.
Taking a memory of Caldas da Rainha like a photo makes your visit even more unforgettable.
Bordalo Pinheiro and Caldas da Rainha
The XIX century is seen as the golden age of the Caldas’ hot springs, a period in which ceramics also met one of its greatest exponents, marked mainly by the transition from a more utilitarian character of dishes to the recognition of artistic ceramics.
In 1884 Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, author of the famous national icon Zé Povinho, is appointed artistic director of the faiance Factory of Caldas da Rainha, initiating a connection to the locality that would never be lost.
His son, Manuel Gustavo Bordalo Pinheiro, continued his work and founded in 1907 the Fábrica de Faiança Bordallo Pinheiro, whose building remains today in the oldest part of the city, next to Parque D. Carlos I, functioning as a store and Bordallo Pinheiro Museum.
Upon the arrival of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro in Caldas da Rainha, other important names in local ceramics such as Francisco Gomes de Avelar, José Alves Cunha, José Francisco de Sousa and Manuel Mafra are added, just to name a few.
Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro’s presence can be felt all over the city, being today one of the quality marks of Caldas da Rainha and one of its biggest attractions.
A presence that we invite you to travel through the Bordaliana Route, a recently created itinerary that will introduce you to Bordalo Pinheiro and at the same time a city that privileges the arts and those who work in them.
Other golden moments that caldense (nickname of the people who live´s in the city) ceramics experienced occurred in the mid-twentieth century, when Alberto Pinto Ribeiro founded the SECLA Factory.in 1947.
SECLA would mark the modernization of caldense ceramics, until then based mainly on small factories of a smaller size and familiar ones that contributed a lot to the growth and the recognition that today has.
SECLA, together with the production of tableware and decorative items, managed to print through its artistic ceramics studio (where Hansi Staël and Ferreira da Silva worked, for example), a contemporary stamp on ceramics in Caldas da Rainha, which even today characterizes it.
Even though it ceased to function in 2008, SECLA remains a reference in the city.
In the current industrial panorama of Caldas da Rainha, currently stand out the Bordallo Pinheiro and Molde Faience Factory, which has an industrial tour that is worth visiting.
There are also those who dedicate themselves to ceramics individually and find their way of understanding, working and contextualizing ceramics in this way, giving it the most varied forms and uses.
The ceramic tradition in Caldas da Rainha remains alive and Carlos Oliveira is one of the best examples of the strength that Caldean ceramic art still has.
To this are added others such as Mário Reis, Vitor Reis, Carlos Enxuto, Ana Sobral or Paula Violante, who continue to give life to the art of working with clay in Caldas da Rainha.
Phallic-Satirical Ceramics in Caldasda Rainha
And if we speak of Caldas da Rainha ceramics, it is essential to speak of the phallic and satirical character of typically caldense production and that puts the city on the map of trickery.
The origins of phallic-satiric ceramics are not certain, but the version that attributes its creation to the Manuel Gomes Mafra factory, in the second half of the XIX century, by order of King D. Luís himself, seems to be the most consensual.
Would the King, or the factory workers, imagine that from a joke one of the strongest traditions of Caldas da Rainha would be born?
Nowadays, and as proof that Caldas da Rainha has always been an artistic city and that it knew how to adapt to the times, there are many ceramists and designers that continue this tradition, giving it new forms and clothes. But this trickery is always there …
Guide on where to find Caldas da Rainha Ceramics
We take the opportunity to leave you here with a simple route in order to find the stores that sell all types of tableware produced in Caldense soil, from the most popular to the most contemporary.
Rua de Camões
Outrora uma das principais artérias da cidade, a rua de Camões que nos leva até ao Hospital Termal, foi casa de lojas e ateliers de ceramistas, hoje já são poucas as abertas.
Rua da Liberdade
In front of the Termal Hospital is the street that goes up towards the mythical Fruit Square (one of the icons of the city). Here you will find another pair of stores that sell the best of Caldas da Rainha ceramics!
Rua Bordalo Pinheiro
On this first street in the city, named after the Lisbon master (Bordalo Pinheiro), he takes us to the Bordallo Pinheiro store and his Casa Museu São Rafael.
In the store you can find the most modern lines of the brand as well as an “outlet” with more affordable pieces.
Rua do Cap. Filipe de Sousa
Here you will find the Mercado da Loiça. This store sells tableware by the kilo and you can also find other types of offers, namely tableware from the brand Bordalo Pinheiro.