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Santa Clara Pottery

Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico

December 1, 2020

Text about Santa Clara

Santa Clara Pueblo Potter by Edward Curtis, c.1905

The blackware pottery of Santa Clara Pueblo and neighboring San Ildefonso Pueblo has been an integral part of Southwest art for generations. Established about 1550, Santa Clara Pueblo has been recognized for centuries for black polished and red polychrome pottery. Serafina Tafoya (1863–1949), the matriarch of one of the most influential families in Pueblo ceramics, defined the technique of hand-impressing by gouging and then smoothing bear paw and water serpent designs into her pottery. Tafoya's technique led to the development of deeper and more clean-edged carving, which is seen in contemporary Santa Clara pottery.  

The neighboring pueblo of San Ildefonoso was home to Maria Martinez, probably the most famous of all Pueblo potters. She and her husband, Julian, discovered in 1918 how to produce the now-famous black-on-black pottery, and they spent the remainder of their careers perfecting and producing it for museums and collectors worldwide. Black pottery from Santa Clara and San Ildefonso has been depicted by artists for decades in paintings, watercolor and prints. Indeed, the blackware pottery of northern New Mexico is an iconic part of the visual landscape of Southwest art.

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Santa Clara Olla, c.1900-1910, fired blackware, 12 inches high 

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Santa Clara Olla, c.1900-1910, fired blackware, 12 inches high 

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Serafina Tafoya

Serafina Tafoya (1863–1949), Black 'Bear Paw' Storage Jar, c. 1900, fired ceramic, 17 h x 18 d inches, NP591-49

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Will Shuster

Will Shuster (1893–1969) The Black Pot – Santa Clara, d. 1923, etching ed 100, 4 x 3 1/2 - unframed

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Maria Martinez (1887–1980) and Santana Martinez (1902–2002), Feather Plate, fired balckware, 15 inches diameter, signed "Marie + Santana," NP30-15

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Will Shuster (1893–1969), Study of Maria Martinez, graphite on brown paper, 11 x 8 1/2 inches, NP66

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Maria Martinez

Maria Martinez (1887–1980), Avanyu Design Plate, fired blackware, 11 1/2 d x 1 3/4 h inches, NP843

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Maria Martinez (1887–1980) and Julian Martinez (1897–1943), Jar with Avanyu Design, c. 1930s, fired blackware, 7 1/2 h x 9 w, signed "Marie + Julian," TOG5515

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Maria Martinez (1887–1980) and Julian Martinez (1897–1943), Plate, fired blackware, 11 inches diameter, signed "Maria + Julian," NP30-8

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Maria Martinez and Popovi Da (1922–71), Small Olla, d. 1968, fired blackware, 4 h x 4 w, signed "Maria | Popovi 1168," NP30-9

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Frank Sauerwein

Frank P. Sauerwein (1871–1910) Esperando Los Turistas, oil on canvas, 8 x 10 inches, TOG6623

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Serafina Tafoya

Serafina Tafoya (1863–1949), Black 'Bear Paw' Storage Jar, c. 1900, fired ceramic, 17 h x 18 d inches, NP591-49

Will Shuster

Will Shuster (1893–1969) The Black Pot – Santa Clara, d. 1923, etching ed 100, 4 x 3 1/2 - unframed

Maria Martinez (1887–1980) and Santana Martinez (1902–2002), Feather Plate, fired balckware, 15 inches diameter, signed "Marie + Santana," NP30-15

Will Shuster (1893–1969), Study of Maria Martinez, graphite on brown paper, 11 x 8 1/2 inches, NP66

Maria Martinez

Maria Martinez (1887–1980), Avanyu Design Plate, fired blackware, 11 1/2 d x 1 3/4 h inches, NP843

Maria Martinez (1887–1980) and Julian Martinez (1897–1943), Jar with Avanyu Design, c. 1930s, fired blackware, 7 1/2 h x 9 w, signed "Marie + Julian," TOG5515

Maria Martinez (1887–1980) and Julian Martinez (1897–1943), Plate, fired blackware, 11 inches diameter, signed "Maria + Julian," NP30-8

Maria Martinez and Popovi Da (1922–71), Small Olla, d. 1968, fired blackware, 4 h x 4 w, signed "Maria | Popovi 1168," NP30-9

Frank Sauerwein

Frank P. Sauerwein (1871–1910) Esperando Los Turistas, oil on canvas, 8 x 10 inches, TOG6623