Painting of Pueblo Maiden with Katsina Doll


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J.D. Roybal, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

J.D. Roybal and His Early Watercolor Painting

Artist signature of J. D. Roybal, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

This early watercolor painting, featuring a young woman holding a katsina doll, is the work of J.D. Roybal, a renowned artist from San Ildefonso Pueblo. Although the painting is undated, it is believed to be one of his early works, as he transitioned to acrylic paints in the mid-1950s. While Roybal began painting in the 1930s, his productivity and seriousness towards painting didn't peak until the 1960s and 70s.

The painting is a testament to Roybal's mastery of color. The woman's manta, painted in a strong black, is contrasted beautifully by the watermelon red of her shawl. Her blouse, subtly rendered in light green, is almost imperceptible. The katsina doll, which she holds with reverence, is depicted in equally soft colors. Roybal's use of muted tones enhances the solemnity of the scene. The absence of background features and a ground plane directs the viewer's focus onto the main characters.

The previous owner of this painting sought insight into its meaning from Barton Wright. In response, Wright wrote:

"With regard to the Roybal painting: The doll is dressed in ceremonial costume so I suspect that it is either an oaku (a doll given to promote birth of a child) or one of the numerous Kocininako (the female Kachina Mana of most of the pueblos east of Zuni) who may come with a red, yellow, or white face. There is so little that is distinctive about these dolls that I can't narrow it down more than that." - Barton Wright

José Desiderio (J.D.) Roybal (1922-1978), also known as Oquwa (Rain God), was born at San Ildefonso Pueblo. He was the son of Tonita and Juan Cruz Roybal and a nephew of the famous artist Alfonso Roybal (Awa Tsireh). While Awa Tsireh may have influenced him, it was Helen Culley, a teacher at the San Ildefonso Pueblo Day School, who first encouraged him to paint in 1930. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Roybal did not attend the Santa Fe Indian School. Instead, he received his education at St. Catherine's School in Santa Fe.

Condition: this Painting of Pueblo Maiden with Katsina Doll is in very good condition

Provenance: our first experience with this painting was when we purchased it in 2004. We sold it to a client at that time and now we have it back from his collection.

Recommended Reading: Indian Painters and White Patrons by J. J. Brody, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1971.

TAGS: San Ildefonso PuebloTonita and Juan Cruz RoybalAlfonso Roybal - Awa TsirehNative American PaintingJ.D. Roybal

Alternate close-up view of a section of this painting.

J.D. Roybal, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter
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