San Ildefonso Black-on-Red Historic Pottery Jar with Handles


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Pueblo Potter Unknown

This Black-on-red jar was made by a potter from San Ildefonso Pueblo. We'd estimate that it dates to between 1890 and 1910. It is completed in the Black-on-red style that was used often by San Ildefonso potters of the late historic era.

The vessel form suggests that the piece was made for sale rather than use. It is reminiscent of a common Tewa water jar shape, but slightly slimmer, with a flared base and a pair of handles. Handles and flared bases like those which appear here rarely were used on utilitarian pieces, which leads us to believe that this was made for sale and display.

While some prefer pieces that were clearly intended for use, we suggest that early made-for-market pieces would be equally desirable. The potters of the era, often with the encouragement of enterprising dealers, were motivated to create works that would stand out in crowded curio shops. The finer examples, like this wonderful San Ildefonso jar, manage to stand out over a century later due to the strength of their inventive forms and unique designs. As with earlier utilitarian pieces, beautiful patinas and gentle wear heightens visual impact.

This piece is at once bold and elegant. Five black design bands appear, with four on the exterior and one on the rim's interior. Each band contains its own element, repeating many times around the jar. Together, they form a lively composition that suits the vessel remarkably well.

From the 1910 census, we know that there were only 8 potters at San Ildefonso at the time. We also know that in 1880, Black-on-red pottery was being made, as examples were collected by Stevenson. It is believed that all leading potters made Black on red pottery. According to Jonathan Batkin, known potters making Black-on-red were Martina and Florentino Montoya, Maria and Julian Martinez, Dominguita Pino, and her daughter Tonita Roybal. Possibly other potters of the period made it as well.

Condition: excellent condition, light wear from handling

Provenance: this San Ildefonso Black-on-Red Historic Pottery Jar with Handles is from a private collection

Reference: Pottery of the Pueblos of New Mexico 1700-1940 by Jonathan Batkin.

TAGS: Southwest Indian PotterySan Ildefonso PuebloHistoric Pottery

Alternate view of this pottery jar.

Pueblo Potter Unknown
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