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Study for “St. Anthony of Lisbon”

Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro1875

Museu Bordalo Pinheiro

Museu Bordalo Pinheiro
Lisboa, Portugal

It was in the periodical A Lanterna Mágica, on 12 June 1875, that Rafael first introduced the iconic figure of Zé Povinho, who from that moment on, and even today, is seen as a symbol of the Portuguese Everyman.
This drawing, which was later published in the magazine, represents a metaphor for the traditional Lisbon scene of a collection for St. Anthony. Fontes Pereira de Melo (Leader of the Regenerator Government) becomes St. Anthony, cradling in his arms the baby Jesus, who is King Luís. To the left, the Commander of the Municipal Guard watches the scene, holding a whip.
Zé Povinho (identifiable from the inscription on his trousers), wearing tattered clothing, is accosted by Serpa Pimentel, Finance Minister at the time, a slate board on his shoulder and alms dish in his hand, asking for a coin for the ‘saint’. Hovering above the scene, figures with the bodies of bees, in top hats, represent personalities from national politics.

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