On May 9th, 1912, the 1st Hall of Portuguese Humorists was inaugurated, an important moment in the history of nineteenth-century Portuguese art and culture. The exhibition was held in Chiado, Lisbon, where the Grémio Literário (Literary Guild) opened its doors to welcome the works of twenty-eight artists.
Surprisingly, it was visited by Manuel de Arriaga, president of the young Republic, echoing in the press of the time, who tried to purchase a work from each of the exhibitors. The event resulted from the efforts of the Society of Portuguese Humorists, formed a year ago under the flagship presidency of Manuel Gustavo Bordalo Pinheiro, son and successor of the noted artist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, already deceased, honoured with eighteen of his lithographs at the entrance of the Hall. Two other artists were also posthumously remembered: Francisco Teixeira and the more prominent Celso Herminio. But the presence of the master Rafael Bordalo fulfilled another sense, serving as “a deposit” to this entire generation of “Bordalianos” and especially to the new modernist humorists. Some and others presented more than three hundred works, including engravings, sketches, covers for publications, decorative friezes, statues, relief plaques and even masks, accumulated in three rooms of the Guild and listed in a modest edited catalogue. Among the heirs of the “Bordaliano” taste, the son Manuel Gustavo, Alonso (pen name of Joaquim Guilherme Santos Silva) stood out, as did Francisco Valença, which prolonged the nineteenth-century trait. But it was the work of the young ones that marked this event in the Portuguese art . The proposal of the young artists sought to counter the exhausted subject of politics, an accurate social commentary, accomplished through a synthetical stroke of figure and context, more current. There was a host of new ones, like Américo Amarelhe, cartoonist of the theatrical world, of the military milieu, such as the official Menezes Ferreira, the urban joke by Sanches de Castro, the kermesse figures of the emigrated Emmerico Nunes (sent from Munich) and the popular laughter of Stuart Carvalhais (in Paris). Thus, the elegance of Jorge Barradas design, the boulevard figurines in clay, from Canto da Maia, were distinguished by the critics and most important, in equal footing, the exemplary modern artists Cristiano Cruz and Almada Negreiros. Great absences were noted, such as Leal da Camara’s (with an exhibition being held at the same time in the capital), Luis Filipe and Correia Dias. After one hundred years, to mark this event, twelve artists were selected, representing the two streams of artistic confrontation and, for the first time, we tried to find the pieces exhibited at the time, to serve as an illustration for the stamp dedicated to each author. Although mostly successful, it was mandatory to open an exception for Emmerico (the only one to exceed the chronological limit of 1912), Manuel Gustavo, Celso and Barradas due to unsuccess in the search. The humour now achieved, mainly through details of the works of the artists, did justice to the effort reflected in the Hall. Despite the enormous success, society’s taste has not changed, continuing to please the “Bordaliano” style. Modernity, understood only by some, would later reach the public, cultural and mentally unprepared…
Issue Date: 16.10.2012
Designer: Atelier B2
Printer: Joh. Enschedé
Size: 30.6 x 40 mm
Values: €0.32, €0.47, €0.68, €0.80