Six-Figure Pueblo Dance Scene by Tonita Peña [SOLD]


+ Add to my watchlist Forward to Friend

Tonita Vigil Peña, Quah Ah, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

This original painting was created by Tonita Peña, an early San Ildefonso Pueblo painter.  Peña created works in the traditional “flat” style.  Scholar and educator Dorothy Dunn said of Peña’s work:

“It is completely unpretentious and authentic.  She might be called a conservative painter for she has set her own standards in keeping with tradition and has adhered to them throughout the years so consistently that, even beyond her death, she has never been superseded as the dean of Indian women painters.”

This piece features six participants in a ceremonial dance.  The procession is led by a flagbearer.  Two men follow, carrying rattles and evergreen boughs.  Two women trail behind, holding evergreen boughs.  A drummer, raising his drumstick and opening his mouth in song, finishes the procession.  Despite working within the boundaries of an established format, Peña’s works are instantly recognizable due to their rich character and generally warm, appealing look. “Her dancers are conventional, yet they are very living people,” according to Dunn.  We would offer this wonderful painting as proof of Dunn’s assertion.

The painting is unsigned, but there is no doubt that it is Tonita Peña’s work.  It is framed in a wood frame that displays its age.  The painting was once in the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe which attributed it to Tonita Peña.  Adobe Gallery also attributes it to Tonita Peña.

Tonita Peña (1893-1949) Quah Ah was born in 1893 at the small New Mexico pueblo of San Ildefonso.  The pueblo is located on the Rio Grande, just north of Santa Fe. When Peña was just twelve years old, her mother passed away. Her father, unable to raise her while tending to his responsibilities at the pueblo, took her to live with her aunt and uncle at Cochiti Pueblo.  This was where she would spend the remainder of her life. 

Tonita Peña was the only woman in the group of talented early pueblo artists referred to as The San Ildefonso Self-Taught Group, which included such noted artists as Julian Martinez, Alfonso Roybal, Abel Sanchez, Crescencio Martinez, and Encarnación Peña.  These artists were the earliest known pueblo painters. Today, their works are highly collectible because of both historical significance and quality.

Condition: excellent condition

Provenance: this Six-Figure Pueblo Dance Scene by Tonita Peña is from a private Arizona collection

Reference:  American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas, Dorothy Dunn

Relative Links: San IldefonsoSanta FeCochiti PuebloJulian MartinezAlfonso RoybalAbel SanchezCrecencio MartinezEncarnación PeñaAlbuquerquepaintingsJoe HerreraTonita Vigil Peña, Quah Ah, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

Close up view of a section of this painting.

Tonita Vigil Peña, Quah Ah, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter
C4521B-paint.jpgC4521B-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.