Pueblo Historic Pictorial Black-on-red Pottery Pitcher


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Potter Once Known

This Black-on-red pottery pitcher was created at San Ildefonso Pueblo in the early 1900s. Its body is globular, with an arched handle and a spout that has been carved and painted to depict an open mouth. It is an appealing and well-crafted vessel, with a gorgeous dark red tone and stunning painted designs.

Similarly styled pieces from this era have been attributed to Alfredo Montoya and the duo comprised of Tonita Roybal and Crescencio Martinez. During this time, men primarily painted pottery for ceremonial or religious purposes, and only occasionally painted pottery for secular purposes. We can't say with absolute certainty that any of these artists worked on this piece, but it is not unlikely.

There is much to admire here in the way of lively design work. The spout mouth, around which painted facial features appear, is an absolute delight. Arrows travel along the arched handle, zigzagging in a manner that recalls lightning designs. A triangular form surrounds the spout; two of its vertices link with larger spiral designs. A brilliant design appears on the opposite side, placing a face within a kiva step arch. Vertical lines hang down from the horizontal sections of the kiva steps, suggesting rain. Down below, a symmetrical abstract design provides a body for the face. This is a unique, delightful example of historic San Ildefonso pottery.

Condition: good condition with some abrasion and wear from handling. One vertical crack near the handle. Minor restoration on rim spout.

Provenance: this Pueblo Historic Pictorial Black-on-red Pottery Pitcher is from a private collection

Recommended Reading: Pottery of the Pueblos of New Mexico 1700-1940 by Jonathan Batkin

TAGS: Southwest Indian PotterySan Ildefonso PuebloHistoric PotteryCrescencio MartinezTonita Roybal

Alternate view showing unusual face imagery.

Potter Once Known
C4642-29-pitcher.jpgC4642-29-large2.jpg Click on image to view larger.