San Ildefonso Polychrome Pictorial Jar
(click image to enlarge)
Item available for viewing at the Adobe Gallery - Santa Fe, NM.
It is intriguing to attempt to read the mind of a potter and painter who existed a hundred years ago, and we cannot pass up the opportunity to do so. Overlooking the pictorial imagery for a moment and analyzing her choice of vessel shape is the first order of business. The bulbous body morphing to a small neck is not a traditional Tewa water jar shape but reflects what the potter may have witnessed in a Santa Fe home with Victorian china. Handles and fluted rim are not what one sees in traditional Tewa vessels before the twentieth century.
An analysis of the pictorial elements is subjective but it appears that the standing male is holding a rifle over his left shoulder in anticipation of shooting the deer on the opposite side of the jar. The beard and mustache, black hat, and black clothing would indicate the potter was picturing a local Spaniard. The seated male is similarly pictured, probably intended to represent another Spaniard. What the seated male represents remains a mystery, as does the small container next to him. Is it a doctor’s medicine bag?
To truly understand what the potter had in mind, we would have to be present around circa 1890 and understand what was happening at San Ildefonso Pueblo. Was there animosity between the Puebloans and the Spaniards or was the potter having a moment of levity and lightheartedness? I choose to think she was enjoying her play on her Spanish neighbors and that the jar was made in good humor. It is an amazing work of art and a fascinating snapshot of a lost moment in history.
Condition: very good condition
Provenance: from the collection of a gentleman from Albuquerque