Caldas da Rainha
Despite having some tradition in the art of ceramics, only in the 19th century did the production of Caldas da Rainha gain its status.
Royal patronage contributed greatly to this in the shape of Queen Maria II and King Fernando II who stimulated the talent of the ceramist Manuel Cipriano Gomes (known as Manuel Mafra) who in 1843, acquired the D. Maria dos Cacos workshop and started a flourishing ceramic production. In the wake of this production, other factories developed based in this region.
As regards the ceramic productions in the Central region, worthy of special mention is that of the Juncal factory (Fábrica do Juncal).
Founded in 1770 by José Rodrigues da Silva e Sousa (a stucco artist), this production acquired its license and right to use the royal arms in 1774, becoming known as the Royal Factory of Juncal (Real Fábrica do Juncal).
Just like his counterparts, it was deeply affected by the French invasions and was closed in 1876.
With ceramic production resuming in the Coimbra area during the 18th century, the best known production in this region in the following centuries was popularly named ratinho Earthenware. The term Ratinho (little mouse), associated with the designation of rustic and the Beira region, was an adjective also used to characterise the workers from the Beiras who seasonally went to the Alentejo for agricultural works.
This ceramic production is characterised by ingenious forms, with characteristic polychromys and popular motifs such as the figurative, zoomorphic, vegetalist and floral decoration, in a simple portrayal in popular style.
28 April 2008