Martina Vigil (1856-1916) and Florentino Montoya (1858-1918)
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As Jonathan Batkin has well documented, there were several outstanding potters at San Ildefonso Pueblo during the 1890s whose work can fairly accurately be associated with their names. Following publication of Batkin's studies, it has become easier today to identify late 19th and early 20th century pottery to artists with some degree of accuracy, or so we hope. One husband and wife team, who were extraordinary artisans, was Martina Vigil and Florentino Montoya. Martina and Florentino have been praised as among the finest artisans at San Ildefonso. Batkin has illustrated a couple of their works in his book Pottery of the Pueblos of New Mexico 1700-1940.
When Maria Martinez was a little girl, she used to watch Florentino and Martina make pots. "Their styles and techniques influenced Maria in her methods of pottery making, Maria Martinez later recalled him. "But this Florentino, he was old, and he painted, oh, very good." -Spivey, 1979:23
By the summer of 1999, the world record for the highest price paid for a single pot in the Western Hemisphere was attributed to Martina and Florentino and sold for $96,000. In this pot, Martina demonstrated her skill at making huge pots. This one is almost two feet in diameter. The quality of its construction is exceptional, featuring a graceful shape and elegant form. -Schaaf, 2000:230.
Martina and Florentino taught her niece, Tonita Peña, to paint and to make pottery. She was an excellent student and went on to be the first Pueblo woman to sign her paintings.
Pottery of the Pueblos of New Mexico 1700-1940 by Jonathan Batkin
“Martina Vigil and Florentino Montoya: Master Potters of San Ildefonso and Cochiti Pueblos,” by Jonathan Batkin, American Indian Art Magazine, Autumn, 1987.
Pueblo Indian Pottery: 750 Artist Biographies by Gregory Schaaf.
The Legacy of Maria Poveka Martinez by Richard Spivey.
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