Azulejos were introduced in Portugal in the fifteenth century. Originally they were used to decorate and lower temperatures in palaces and churches but as production techniques evolved and costs diminished, they began appearing in individual houses, public places and shops. The use of azulejos for advertising purposes developed in the late nineteenth century. Even though a few companies, such as Firestone, had relatively high numbers of azulejos manufactured to advertise their products, the vast majority of commercial azulejos were commissioned to decorate and promote specific shops or businesses. Some businesses in both Portugal and Spain still have some made especially for them but the heyday of the commercial azulejos was between the turn of the twentieth century and the 1950s.
The example below can be found by the front window of what used to be a dairy (literally a "milk and butter shop"). Unfortunately the lower part of the panel of azulejos below, which bore the name of the shop, has been damaged and a plain white tile has been used to replace a missing one. At least the ideal country scene, in typical blue and white colours, is still intact.
Could the name of the shop have been A Garota (The Girl)? The presence of a joyful farm girl could lead us to think so.
The Museu Nacional do Azulejo in the former Convento da Madre de Deus, had a book (in Portuguese) about commercial azulejos but the text was rather disappointing and although some of the pictures were nice enough, I thought the price tag was really excessive.
Location: Rua de São José, Lisbon / Pictures taken on: 06/11/2010