Maria Martinez and Santana Feather Blackware Pottery Jar

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Maria Martinez, San Ildefonso Pueblo Potter

Maria Martinez is the matriarch of San Ildefonso pottery, and her pieces never fail to enchant.  She made pottery for the better part of a century and collaborated with many of her talented family members.  Stories float between biographies and individuals surrounding Maria’s skills and generosity of heart.  It is easy to imagine enjoying the process of either learning from her or working with her.  

Artists' signatures of Maria Martinez and Santana, San Ildefonso Pueblo PottersIn the case of this pleasing feather jar, Maria worked with her daughter-in- law, Santana. It is signed, Maria + Santana.  Gracefully curved from its base, this jar tapers as it reaches upward toward its rim. Four very fine matte black lines decorate horizontally and expand the widest portion of this jar, wavering just slightly in a couple places, reminding those who behold it that it was, indeed, made by hand.

It was Julian, Maria’s husband, who was credited with originally incorporating San Ildefonso pottery with the ancient Mimbres eagle feather design.  Here, a matte portion has been carefully designed to outline 31 eagle feather shapes in a lovely row across the jar’s tapered portion, reaching just below the rim.  The effect is quite mesmerizing and makes the jar both refined and visually engaging. 

Although the process of making pottery was developed between husband and wife in her earlier life, Maria was somehow able to move through the loss of Julian with a continuity of artistic creation.  There may have been a healing element to her undertaking, or potentially an undying drive to create, alongside the need to support her family. With this iconic jar she worked with her daughter-in-law and the result was yet again, something astounding.

Maria Martinez (1887-1980) of San Ildefonso Pueblo is probably the most famous of all pueblo potters. Noted authority Richard Spivey sent Adobe Gallery the following comment which we are pleased to print: “Maria retired from pottery making in October 1970; she made no pottery for the commercial market after that time. Santana did not pick up on painting Maria's pottery after Po's death since Maria was no longer potting.”


Condition: this Maria and Santana Jar is in excellent, if not original condition.

Provenance: this Maria Martinez and Santana Feather Blackware Pottery Jar came from a private collection of a man who lives in Texas. 

Recommended Reading: MARIA by Richard L. Spivey

Relative Links: Pueblo Pottery, San Ildefonso PuebloPopovi DaSantana and Adam MartinezJulian MartinezMaria Martinez, San Ildefonso Pueblo Potter

Maria Martinez, San Ildefonso Pueblo Potter
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