San Ildefonso Pueblo Black with Sienna Rim Antelope Dish by Tony Da

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Tony Da, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter and Potter

Artist Signature of Tony Da, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter and PotterThis black shallow dish, made in 1968 by San Ildefonso Pueblo artist Tony Da, has a sienna rim encircling the design of a *sgraffito antelope that rests in the base of the dish.  The heartline from the mouth to the heart expands as it enters the body.  The outer rim of the dish is stone-polished black, which rolls over to the top of the dish in a sienna tone.  A narrow darker black inner rim encircles the dish just below the sienna.  The matte-finish underside of the dish has the traditional DA signature.

Tony Da (1940-2008) was among the first of the pueblo potters to expand the popularity of such beyond the average collector of traditional pottery.  He rapidly advanced his art and techniques from the traditional beginning of bear figurines and sgraffito-designed jars to elaborate works of art.

Tony was destined to become one of the finest artists of the 20th century. His grandparents, Maria and Julian Martinez, and his father, Popovi Da, were skilled artists. Tony was a painter from early in life, and was winning awards for his paintings. A change occurred when he moved in with his grandmother in 1966. She taught him the techniques of pottery making and he learned very well. Within three years, Maria said he had nothing else to learn from her.

Tony's first pottery pieces were simple bear figurines. Maria commented that he was very good, and she could not do anything to make him better, except that he needed to learn to make ollas, which, of course, he did. His early jars were simple red ones with an Avanyu encircling the body just below the rim.  From these simple figurines and jars, Tony rapidly expanded his repertoire to elaborate and beautiful pottery creations. It is my understanding that Tony’s dad, Popovi Da, fired all of Tony’s black pottery.

In 1982, Tony suffered massive head injuries in a motorcycle accident, which left him unable to continue his pottery career.  Fortunately for us, he left a legacy of outstanding art objects.  Tony only had a 12- or 13-year career as a potter before his devastating motorcycle accident, an accident that ended his pottery career.  In that dozen years, he created many masterpieces and received world recognition. Very few artists can claim such fame in a dozen years.


*Sgraffito Carving: A method of pottery design known as sgraffito carving is relatively new in pueblo pottery traditions. Rather than deep carving, as is more traditional at Santa Clara Pueblo, sgraffito is achieved by scraping the vessel with a sharp instrument to achieve a shallow depth. The pottery is formed in the traditional coil method, slipped with a watery clay and stone polished before the sgraffito carving commences.

Condition: very good condition with minor surface scratches

Provenance: this San Ildefonso Pueblo Black with Sienna Rim Antelope Dish by Tony Da is from the collection of a gentleman from Massachusetts who purchased it in 1968

Recommended Reading: The Life and Art of Tony Da by Charles King and Richard Spivey

Relative Links: San Ildefonso PuebloPopovi DaMariaJulian MartinezpotteryMaria and Julianutilitarian potteryPopovi Da began assisting Mariapaintingjewelryfetishesjewelry boxesprehistoric Mimbres cultureceramicsTony Da, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter and Potter

Close up view of the Sgraffito animal.



Tony Da, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter and Potter
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