Small Painting of a Single Male Dancer


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José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

There were several artists painting at San Ildefonso Pueblo in the 1920s. Among them were Tonita Peña, Ricardo Martinez, Luís GonzalesAbel SánchezRomando Vigil and Encarnación Peña.

 A little-known San Ildefonso artist is Encarnación Peña. One of the early artists, he produced little through the years. Like so many others, he was greatly influenced by the more outstanding men of his village, particularly in delicacy of style in painting dancers. Typical of so much pueblo work, the figures dominate the otherwise blank paper. Typically pueblo in style is the raised foot of the dancer, as if in motion.

 Of all the paintings by Peña, this is the only small one I have ever seen.  All the other single-figure paintings have been significantly larger.

Artist Signature: José Encarnacion Peña (1902-1979) Soqween - So Kwa A Weh (Frost on the Mountain)Peña is well represented in the collections of the Denver Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian), Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Museum of Northern Arizona, Millicent Rogers Museum (Taos), Southwest Museum (Los Angeles) and the Laboratory of Anthropology of the Museum of New Mexico.

Among his awards is “Best example of original use of traditional material” awarded by SWAIA in 1957.


Condition:  The Small Painting of a Single Male Dancer  is in original excellent condition.  It has just been framed using all acid-free materials and a handmade wood frame.

Provenance: from the artist’s estate, passed from his wife to her grandson.

Recommended Reading:  American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas by Dorothy Dunn.  (One copy of this book is currently available at $135)

Close up view

José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter
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