Extraordinary Santo Domingo Pueblo Aguilar Storage Jar


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Felipita Aguilar Garcia and Asuncion Aguilar Caté, Santo Domingo Pueblo Potters

The most amazing family of potters at Santo Domingo Pueblo in the late 1800s was the Aguilars—sisters Felipita Aguilar Garcia and Asuncion Aguilar Caté, and their sister-in-law Mrs. Ramos Aguilar. They made the traditional Black-on-white pottery early in their careers but ventured into something new around 1910. That something new was a strong design in black and red over a barely visible cream slip. We do not know if Mrs. Ramos Aguilar was involved in the new style of pottery or whether she continued making excellent Black-on-cream wares.

Most of the Aguilar sisters' pottery creations were water jars and occasionally a storage jar or dough bowl. We know more about the pottery of the two sisters than that by their sister-in-law.

This jar is one of their rare storage jars, and one where the sisters reached their zenith. The use of black rectangles surrounding the neck, large black ovals on the midbody, and a black band on the lower body was a perfect combination of geometrics for the most striking result. This use of strong pigments and geometrics was solely the creation of the Aguilar sisters.

The vessel is tall, bulbous, and graceful, with particularly strong design work. The outstanding black elements on the body are incredible; they appear to provide windows into the jar. These larger elements are softened by the dark red pigment. The cream slip is allowed to show through, very carefully and deliberately, to create thin framing lines around each design.

The combination of red/black/cream is beautifully balanced—not too much of one color or too little of another. The potters not only demonstrated their talent in forming a beautifully balanced vessel, they expressed an amazing artistic ability in the design. The black, which is usually a notable highlight of an Aguilar sisters piece, is particularly intense and beautiful here.

This style did not begin to be produced until about 1910 and does not seem to have been made after 1920, when the sisters' advancing age and failing health put an end to their work. Unfortunately, such beauty did not bring the increased sales that the sisters hoped for. It was not their work that was at fault, it was the economy of the time.

The talents of the two Aguilar sisters may not have been recognized during their careers, but collectors today are appropriately appreciative of their amazing work. They created some of the most beautiful pottery ever made at Santo Domingo Pueblo. This piece is as strong as anything we've seen from these artists. Additionally, it is a storage jar, not a smaller water jar.

Condition: very good condition with a very small repair on the interior rim.

Provenance: this Extraordinary Santo Domingo Pueblo Aguilar Storage Jar is from the collection of Richard M. Howard, Santa Fe dealer and collector, who sold it to Rick Dillingham, Santa Fe dealer, potter, and collector in the 1970s. Currently from the collection of a gallery client.

Reference: Aguilar-Felipita and Asuncion, Santo Domingo Pueblo, circa 1905-1914. Special Exhibit at Adobe Gallery, Santa Fe, NM. 2019.

TAGS: Santo Domingo PueblopotteryFelipita Aguilar GarciaAsunción Aguilar Caté

Alternate view of this storage jar.

Felipita Aguilar Garcia and Asuncion Aguilar Caté, Santo Domingo Pueblo Potters
C4759ZA-aguilar.jpgC4759ZA-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.