Santa Clara Pueblo Painting of Tewa Clown by Pablita Velarde

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Pablita Velarde, Santa Clara Pueblo Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Santa Clara Pueblo
  • Medium: Mineral earth pigments on board
  • Size:
    23-1/4" x 11-3/8” image;
    25-1/4" x 13-1/2” framed
  • Item # 26214
  • Price: $3,500.00

This mineral earth painting of a Tewa clown was created by Santa Clara Pueblo artist Pablita Velarde.  The artist is known for images like this one—realistic depictions of Pueblo ceremonial scenes. Her subject here, the Tewa clown, is a common one for the early pueblo painters.  With this image, Velarde used just five colors to create a clown. It would be accurate to describe the colors as “earthy,” especially when the actual source materials are taken into consideration.  The clown is depicted in motion, with his head turned upward and his mouth open. Velarde’s outlines are minimal, and there’s little in the way of extraneous detail. Everything about the image is simple and strong.  The top of the clown’s headpiece touches the top border, and his toe nearly touches the bottom. He occupies the majority of the long, thin board, creating a striking presentation out of simple, natural materials. This is another wonderful piece from pioneering pueblo artist Pablita Velarde.

Artist Signature - Pablita Velarde (1918-2006) Tse Tsan - Golden DawnThe painting is signed Pablita Velarde in lower right.  It is framed in a simple, wooden, likely original frame.

Pablita Velarde (1918-2006) Tse Tsan - Golden Dawn was an innovative and influential artist from Santa Clara Pueblo.  Velarde was the first full-time female student in Dorothy Dunn's art class at the Santa Fe Indian School, where she studied alongside Tonita Peña.  These two women are regarded as the first Native American women to support themselves as painters, but it’s not just because of this that they are remembered so fondly.  It’s because of the quality of their works that they have remained so visible in the many years since they passed.

Velarde painted in the traditional style of the Santa Fe Indian School, creating accurate portraits of Native American life and culture. At first she worked in watercolor, but later learned how to prepare paints from natural pigments—a process called “Fresco Secco.”  She is best known for these mineral earth paintings. She would grind mineral and rock elements using a metate and mano until the result was a powdery substance. From this substance her paints were made. She also painted on paper, often using casein in addition to earth pigments. She was also known to create art derived from the Navajo sandpainting tradition.  Velarde’s list of accomplishments and accolades is long and varied. Her works have been exhibited around the country and are included in many prestigious public and private collections. Author and anthropologist Clara Lee Tanner called her the “greatest woman artist in the Southwest.” Her daughter Helen Hardin and her granddaughter Margaret Bagshaw were themselves very successful and influential painters, creating an artistic dynasty.


Condition: this Santa Clara Pueblo Painting of Tewa Clown by Pablita Velarde is in good condition with a few small discolorations

Provenance: Private New Mexico collection

Reference: Tanner, Clara Lee.  Southwest Indian Painting a changing art, 1973

Relative Links: Native American PaintingsSanta Clara PuebloTonita PeñawatercolorHelen Hardin, Pablita VelardeClara Lee Tanner, Dorothy Dunn

Close up view of the face of the Koshare Clown figure.

Pablita Velarde, Santa Clara Pueblo Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Santa Clara Pueblo
  • Medium: Mineral earth pigments on board
  • Size:
    23-1/4" x 11-3/8” image;
    25-1/4" x 13-1/2” framed
  • Item # 26214
  • Price: $3,500.00

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