ca. 1925
Decorative Arts
New Mexico clay, volcanic ash, red slip; burnished, painted and fired
United States,San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico
Overall: 14 3/8 in. (36.51 cm)

Maria and Julian Martinez, Tewa Indians of San Ildefonso Pueblo, are among the most widely recognized 20th-century American potters. Inspired by archaeologists, Maria led a revival of prehistoric pottery styles among Pueblo artisans. After establishing a national reputation at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, she began collaborating with her husband, Julian. From 1919 to 1943, Maria shaped the pots and Julian painted the designs. They fired them using a specialized technique that produced a distinctive black finish, often part matte, part lustrous.

For this bold platter, Julian used one of their favorite motifs, a puname eagle-feather design adapted from the thousand-year-old Mimbres style pottery.

After Julian’s death in 1943, Maria made pottery with other family members, including daughter-in-law Santana Roybal Martinez; one of their elegant bowls, with a solid lustrous glaze, is also on view. Today, a new generation of the Martinez family continues the tradition of crafting the highly prize blackware.

signed on bottom: "Marie + Julian"
Floyd D. and Anne C. Gottwald Fund
Hear My Voice: Native American Art of the Past and Present
VMFA: 8/19/17 – 11/26/17
Museum of Shenandoah Valley: 2/17/18 – 7/22/18
Taubman Museum of Art: 9/29/18 – 01/06/19
©artist or artist’s estate

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.