Original Painting of Pueblo Ceremonial Scene by Tonita Peña


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Tonita Vigil Peña, Quah Ah, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

This original watercolor painting was created by San Ildefonso Pueblo artist Tonita Peña.  Peña’s subject in this piece is a ceremonial Buffalo Dance.  Her depiction includes three figures—two Buffalo Dancers and one drummer.  The image as a whole feels energetic and colorful.  It is a fine example of Peña’s work.

Peña utilized a larger-than-usual color palette for this piece, adding a wide variety of soft tones to her subjects’ clothing.  The two dancers’ movements—left arms and legs raised; heads turned slightly left—feel accurately expressive.  The drummer follows behind them, positioned slightly lower within the image.  He’s depicted in profile, while the two dancers he follows are turned slightly toward the viewer, allowing a look at the details of their clothing. 

Hallmark Signature of Tonita Vigil Peña, Quah Ah, San Ildefonso Pueblo PainterIt is marked with the signature that she began to use in the early 1930s.  The painting is signed Quah Ah. in lower right, and embellished with a decorative rain cloud design.  It is framed in a thin wood frame with carved accents.

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. 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 Original Painting of Pueblo Ceremonial Scene by Tonita Peña is in private New Mexico collection

Recommended Reading: Tonita Peña by Samuel L. Gray

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

Close up view of the Buffalo Dancers.