Lisbon – Nineteenth Century Façade Tiles

Following on from the previous post on 16th century arista tiles and potter Cristina Pina, these are a selection of tiles from the fronts of nineteenth century shops and apartment buildings in Bairro Alto, Baixa, Chiado and Alfama. Most of them are very simple designs, apparently stencilled in underglaze colour. They are not always treated with much respect, with tatty repairs at lower levels as in the second one down. The Museum Nacional do Azulejo has some in its collection but they seem to prefer the more refined busy ones to the loose cheerfulness of examples like the green and blue ones below which show every brushstroke.

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Some of the shops have freehand painted signs. This one has been through the wars rather and the security light is something of a final insult. The lettering is wobbly and characterful and seems to have no fixed rules. At the same time there is a pleasure in the negative spaces that typographers so enjoy. The enamelled 3a panel is another layer in the archaeology of the building. Is it a food quality mark for an eatery? It retains the stencilled aesthetic and half respects the borders. 1-2015-03-10 10.40.43

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