Pocano Original Painting of Two Pueblo Dancers

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Julián Martinez, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

This original painting was created by San Ildefonso Pueblo artist Julian Martinez.  We have handled many of Martinez’ works over the years—hundreds, if you include the pots he painted in collaboration with his wife Maria—but we remain excited by the arrival of a new-to-us piece.  His paintings usually feature either Pueblo dancers in the traditional style, or animals and dancers surrounded by symbolic design elements.  This piece falls firmly within the former category, and it is one of the strongest works in that style that we’ve seen. 

The painting features two dancers in profile.  A man with a bow—”the hunter from the Feast Day Animal Dance”, according to a friend from San Ildefonso—leads the procession.  An Antelope dancer follows behind.  As is expected of a traditional Pueblo painting, there is no background.  Martinez’ dancers here are slightly larger than his usual offerings, and the expanded size works wonderfully.  We would suggest that the greatest strength of his paintings is the rich character given to each figure, and these two are particularly strong in that regard, carrying a uniquely magnetic appeal as they dance across the image.  This is an exceptional example of Julian Martinez’ instantly recognizable version of the traditional Pueblo style.

Artist Signature of Julián Martinez, San Ildefonso Pueblo PainterThe painting is signed Julian Martinez in lower right.  It is framed beautifully, under a fabric mat in a carved wood frame.  There are some abrasions to the frame’s gold paint, but they suit the older look of the painting.

Julián Martinez (1885-1943) Pocano “Coming of the Spirits” was an artist who was born, lived most of his life, and died at the small but artistically rich San Ildefonso Pueblo. He is perhaps best known for painting designs onto the pottery vessels created by his wife—the famous San Ildefonso potter Maria Martinez.  He painted works on paper, too, and did so successfully despite receiving no formal art education. He was the father of Popovi Da and the grandfather of Tony Da, both of whom went on to become famous and successful artists themselves. Martinez was an important part of two major artistic movements: the beginnings of both black-on-black San Ildefonso pottery and traditional “flat style” pueblo painting.  Martinez passed away in 1943.


Condition: very good condition—minor fading in signature, a few small discoloration

Provenance: this Pocano Original Painting of Two Pueblo Dancers is from the collection of a client from Arizona

Recommended Reading: Clara Lee Tanner.  Southwest Indian Painting: a Changing Art 

Relative Links: San Ildefonso PuebloMaria MartinezPopovi DapotterypaintingsJulián Martinez (1885-1943) Pocano - Coming of the Spirits

Close up view of one of the animal dancers.

Julián Martinez, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter
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