At the height of the financial crisis at the Fábrica de Faianças das Caldas da Rainha, the artist created this monumental work, a testament to the mindset of the age as well as his technical and artistic skill.
Based on a traditional pottery form, the talha or in bilha, this piece Rafael Bordalo introduced an entire decorative programme in honour of the Discoveries and in praise of the homeland. He makes use of Gothic architecture and a Manueline and ethnographic ornamental grammar. A frieze of miniature arcades, ropes, nets and tiles frame portraits of Prince Henry the Navigator and the poet Luís de Camões, as well as two scenes depicting caravels. The handles are formed of rope and at the neck are repeated arcades holding micro sculptures of the Passion of Christ. The lid is a Lusitanian roof, with suspended winged figures, topped by an armillary sphere and the cross of Christ. The vase sits on a base covered with patterned tiles and the coat of arms of Queen Leonor and the five bezants of Portugal. It was purchased by King Carlos and has been in the museum since 1926.