Toña Peña Vigil, San Ildefono Pueblo Potter
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San Ildefonso Pueblo pottery by Toña Peña Vigil deviates slightly at the neck from the norm. The neck of most jars are very slightly concave, not significantly, but noticeably. Toña apparently placed an extra coil of clay around the neck which interrupts the concave shape by introducing a slight hump around the circumference.
Thanks to detailed and comprehensive research by Jonathan Batkin, we have learned of the importance of a married couple from San Ildefonso in the late 1800s who were masters at the art of making and painting pottery. Martina Vigil (1856-1916) and Florentino Montoya (1858-1918) have been recognized as the major potters that they were but little information has been published about Martina’s mother, Toña Peña Vigil, who was still an active potter in 1915. Her birth and death dates are uncertain but she probably was born around 1840 and passed away around 1920.
Until now, pottery by Toña Peña Vigil was not recognized as work by her but mostly mis-attributed to her daughter and son-in-law—the reason being that the painted designs were like those of Florentino. Why the similarity between pottery by mother and daughter? Martina learned pottery making from her mother so it is not unusual for her pottery to resemble that of her mother’s. But why would their designs not be more distinct? Most likely because Florentino learned how to paint by assisting his mother-in-law. So, if Toña’s pottery has been mistaken for that of her daughter’s, it is quite understandable.