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“Rare as hen’s teeth” is the most appropriate descriptor for this wonderful historic pottery bowl. All Maria and Julian Martinez polychrome pottery vessels are rare and were only made for a very short time early in the 20th century but the rarest of the rare of these vessels are their stepped polychrome terraced bowls such as this one which are almost never seen today outside museums. This bowl bears Maria Martinez’s famous and earliest period signature “Marie” incised on the bottom of the vessel making it one of the very first historic pueblo pottery vessels to ever bear an artist’s signature. Maria Montoya Martinez (1887-1980) was the earliest Pueblo pottery maker to ever sign her work doing it initially at the behest and request of Anthropologist Dr. Kenneth M. Chapman of the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe.

Maria and Julian Martinez, c. 1925

Maria with some of  her pottery, c. 1925

The kiva at San Ildefonso Pueblo

Area of exfoliation prior to restoration

The bowl measures a good-sized 8 1/2” in diameter and it is 4” in height at its tallest points. The bowl is in generally excellent condition with a small amount of professional restoration to the slip and paint in an exfoliated area on one side likely due to water damage. The restoration was perfectly accomplished by the renowned ceramics restorer, Andy Goldschmidt of Albuquerque, NM and it is documented in the photo below.

This is a most unusual opportunity to acquire one of the finest, most unique ceramic art works by one of the most highly-regarded Pueblo potters in history, decidedly and deservedly a legend in her own time and for all time.

Price $9,450

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An extremely rare early polychrome pottery

terraced or “Kiva-step” bowl by Maria and Julian Martinez, San Ildefonso Pueblo, NM, c.1923-25

Maria and Julian demonstrating pottery making in front of the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe.

Unknown photographer, c. 1920-30. 1984.012.009

The bowl is very beautifully and finely formed and well polished with an extremely graceful shape and a very nicely-carved traditional four-directions “Kiva-step” or terraced design after which the bowl was most precisely and elegantly painted by Maria’s husband, the master Pueblo painter Julian Martinez (1897-1943). It is painted with four “Kiva-step” motifs, one under each of the terraced corners which are interspersed with four very finely-executed geometric designs. The delicate black framing line work outlining the design field at top and bottom is most precisely rendered as well. The overall effect here is simply mesmerizing; this is what true artistic greatness looks like and feels like and it is an excellent demonstration of why Maria Martinez is held in such high esteem as one of the greatest Pueblo pottery makers of all time alongside Nampeyo of Hano and Margaret Tafoya.

and after restoration.

One of Maria’s old pottery polishing stones given to us by our

colleague, Marti Struever, who received it as a gift from Santana Martinez.

Sorry, this stone is not included in the sale of this bowl.