Original Painting of a Pueblo Corn Dancer in Profile by Julian Martinez

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Julián Martinez, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

This original painting was created by San Ildefonso Pueblo artist Julian Martinez. It features a single Corn Dancer in profile, with no background or ground plane, which is typical of the works of Martinez and other early pueblo painters.  This is a fine example of the style that has come to be known as the “Studio style”, or the “flat style.”

Martinez’ Corn Dancer wears the traditional kilt, and carries a rattle and evergreen branch.  He’s made of a pleasant combination of gray, black and yellow, with a soft pink appearing only to form his face.  The outlines are thin and wispy, but notably precise.  Martinez’ work here is gentle and beautiful, and it’s evident that great care went into each element of the composition.

Artist Signature of Julián Martinez Pocano - Coming of the SpiritsThe painting is signed Julian Martinez in the lower right.  It is framed in a thin carved frame, under a gray-speckled off-white mat with a gray interior band.

Julián Martinez (1885-1943) Pocano “Coming of the Spirits” was an artist who was born, lived most of his life, and died at the small but artistically rich San Ildefonso Pueblo. He is perhaps best known for painting designs onto the pottery vessels created by his wife—the famous San Ildefonso potter Maria Martinez.  He painted works on paper, too, and did so successfully despite receiving no formal art education. He was the father of Popovi Da and the grandfather of Tony Da, both of whom went on to become famous and successful artists themselves. Martinez was an important part of two major artistic movements: the beginnings of both black-on-black San Ildefonso pottery and traditional “flat style” pueblo painting.

Martinez’ works on paper are considered the most rare, simply because he didn't have very much time to paint.  Besides painter and pottery designer, his various occupations included farmer, laborer, Museum of New Mexico janitor, and Governor of San Ildefonso Pueblo.  According to Jeanne Snodgrass’ American Indian Painters: A Biographical Directory, Martinez began painting around 1920.  He mostly painted traditional pueblo “flat style” depictions of pueblo dancers, but occasionally strayed away from tradition and towards abstract symbolism.  Martinez' paintings were among those selected by Mary Jane Colter to decorate La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He received several commissions for murals, at the Santa Fe Indian School; Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado; and the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe.

Julián Martinez is most widely recognized for his work painting pottery made by his wife, Maria Martinez. He excelled at painting on paper as well. Martinez' paintings are in numerous public collections, including: Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado; Dartmouth College Collection, Hanover, New Hampshire; Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska; National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.; Museum of Northern Arizona, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York; Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, New Mexico; University of Oklahoma Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Norman, Oklahoma; School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Southwest Museum, Los Angeles, California; and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Martinez died on March 6, 1943, at San Ildefonso Pueblo.


Condition: excellent condition

Provenance: this Original Painting of a Pueblo Corn Dancer in Profile by Julian Martinez is from a private New Mexico collection

Reference: Snodgrass, Jeanne. American Indian Painters: A Biographical Directory

Relative Links: San Ildefonso PuebloMaria MartinezPopovi DapotterypaintingsJulián Martinez (1885-1943) Pocano - Coming of the Spirits

Close up view of a section of this painting.