Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro put forth a wide variety of ceramic items portraying fish and shellfish.

Sardines, eels, crabs, edible crabs, bivalves, lobsters and a huge collection of other fish and shellfish “invaded” panniers, giant plates, baskets, pots and vases, decorated with nets and fishing floats, creating a richly sculptural and theatrical fishing setting, painted with incredibly accurate colours.


The clam is a bivalve that includes many species. It has a shell that can vary from light gray to dark brown or display cream, brown or greyish hues, with striations and well-marked lines, presenting a characteristic lattice pattern. This mollusc lives on the sea bottom, near the coast, or on riverbeds and lagoons, buried in sand or mud. It feeds through filtration, with a diet of microalgae carried by currents, captured through a tubelike structure or siphon. It reproduces in summer.


The cockle is a filtering bivalve mollusc that lives buried at a depth of about 5 centimetres in sand or mud, where it feeds by filtering the phytoplankton from the water. When threatened, it can quickly burrow deeper by the retraction of the foot that keeps it anchored, which manoeuvre sometimes sallows cockles to escape predators. Cockles are very common and up to 10,000 animals per square meter can be found. Because of its high tolerance to low salinity environments, it is also frequently found in estuaries.

Blackbelly Rosefish

The blackbelly rosefish has a reddish back and pink and whitish hues in the belly. Its body is robust, with big, bulgy eyes and distinctive spines. It is found in the northeast Atlantic and in the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores, where it lives close to the seabed, from 200 to 1000 meters deep, often dwelling in marine wrecks. It is a solitary species that only gathers in summer, for reproduction. It feeds on fish and crustaceans during the day, with a period of inactivity at nighttime.


Crabs are crustaceans that can also survive out of water. Their flat bodies are covered by a hard shell that provides protection. They have long, thin legs that allow them to walk under water, swim and dig. The claws, used to attack and to catch prey, are their first pair of legs. The antennae have several functions, including as sensory organs, allowing them to find food. The protruding eyes can retreat inside the shell for added security. The crab is a nocturnal animal, which usually spends the day hidden between rocks and coral.

Horse Mackerel

The horse mackerel has an elongated, gray body with blue hues on the back and silver shades on the belly and sides. It lives in the northeast Atlantic, the Madeira Archipelago and the Mediterranean Sea, where it can be found from the surface to the bottom of the sea, in coastal areas between 100 to 200 meters deep. It forms large shoals that undertake substantive migrations, feeding on small fish, crustaceans and molluscs. It reproduces from December to April. Other names for the horse mackerel include scad, saurel and European horse mackerel.

Lusitanian Toadfish

The Lusitanian toadfish has a greenish-brown colour and feeds on crabs and small fish. It is a solitary animal that emits a variety of sounds and normally dwells on soft sand or mud or in crevices. It can live up to 10 years. Its body is deprived of scales and the eyes are located on the top of the head. The Lusitanian toadfish is a brackish water species, whose male specimens can grow to a length of 50 centimetres.

Jack Mackerel

The jack mackerel is quite common in the Atlantic Ocean and throughout the Mediterranean. This species is normally found in big shoals all along the Portuguese coast, at moderate depths, feeding on small crustaceans, fish and molluscs. The jack mackerel undertakes considerable migrations and reproduces between December and April.

Pounting Fish

Pouting fish live in the northeast Atlantic, from the south of Norway to Morocco, and in the Mediterranean Sea, in rocky or sandy areas, forming small schools. Juvenile pouting fish live closer to the shoreline and can enter estuaries. In spring, to reproduce, adults move closer to coastal areas. Pouting fish feed on crustaceans, molluscs and small fish and can grow to a maximum length of 45 centimetres.

Blackspot Seabream

The blackspot seabream has reddish hues and a black spot on the head. The inside of its mouth is peculiarly orange-red. It is found in the northeast Atlantic, where adults dwell close to the sea bottom, up to 700 meters deep. Young blackspot seabream live in schools closer to costal zones. It feeds on small fish, crustaceans and molluscs. The species reproduces during summer and fall.


The lobster, with its characteristic antennae and claws, is a crustacean with a body that can reach up to 50 centimetres in length, covered by a thick prickly shell. It likes rocky areas and places with marine vegetation, as long as there are plenty of molluscs to feed on. During the day, lobsters hide in crevices or among algae. At night-time, they go out in search for food, returning to their shelter in the morning. When threatened, the lobster moves quickly by hunching its back, with the tail wide open, and keeping the legs and antennae facing forward. It dwells between 70 and 200 meters deep, normally moving closer to coastal areas during breeding season.


The mussel is a bivalve mollusc with a black, oval shell, which allows it to attach to other organisms. It is found in the northeast Atlantic and the Portuguese coast, in estuaries and oceanic habitats, living in rocky intertidal areas, up to 10 meters deep. It attaches to rocks in large clumps by way of a structure called byssus, feeding of phytoplankton and other organic particles through filtration.

Red Porgy

Juvenile red porgy are usually found in shallow, sheltered areas, alter migrating to deeper waters. Adult red porgy mainly live between 50 and 150 meters deep. Fish of this species can however be found up to 250 meters deep. Red porgy gather in schools and the largest fish can weigh up to eight kilos. These specimens are only found far from the shore, in deeper waters.