Columbano was the son of sculptor and painter Manuel Maria Bordalo Pinheiro.
Years after completing his training (painter Miguel Ângelo Lupi and sculptor Simões de Almeida were his masters), he travelled to Paris, benefiting from a scholarship funded by King Consort Fernando II of Portugal, already the widower of Queen Maria II of Portugal.
On his return to Portugal, he joined the “Grupo do Leão”, which aimed to renew the aesthetics of compositions in the country’s art. His portraits of Ramalho Ortigão, Teófilo Braga, Eça de Queirós and Antero de Quental are famous from this period.
In 1901, he became a professor of historical painting at the Lisbon Academy of Fine Arts, where he had studied as a young man.
A group of artists and writers used to meet at the Leão d’Ouro brewery, which became known as the “Grupo do Leão”. This group, which would be immortalised in Columbano’s painting of the same title (pictured), and in which Silva Porto was considered the leader, included the painters of the “Lisbon naturalist generation”, José Malhoa, António Ramalho, João Vaz, Columbano, Moura Girão, Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, Ribeiro Cristino, Rodrigues Vieira and Cipriano Martins.
It was an opportunity for artists who shared a common desire to renew the dominant aesthetic concepts of the Portuguese art scene to get together and organise an annual exhibition of modern paintings.
Cover image: Unfinished self-portrait by Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro. 1929
Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro // © Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado
Image: Grupo de Leão. 1885
Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro // © National Museum of Contemporary Art in Chiado