Masterful San Ildefonso Olla with Negative Designs and Unusual Douglas Fir Elements, possibly Painted by Florentino Montoya, c. 1890


Figure 12. This a visually stunning , color saturated Olla or water jar dating to perhaps 1895.  It is stone polished with a slipped red rim, used by several early potters according to Jonathan Batkin’s 2 classic articles in American Indian Art magazine in 1987 and 1991.  Rich black paint is used to dramatically set off negative kiva step and shadow elements in the neck, to create narrow white lines between the red and black Geometrics in the upper mid body and unique Douglas Fir designs against white backdrops in the lower mid body.  The Douglas fir elements are reminiscent of those used in dances at San Ildefonso.  The heavy use of black and negative elements remind me of the 2 ollas by Tona Pena Vigil in figure 8 of Batkin, American Indian Art, volume 12, #4. Batkin notes that Florentino assisted his mother-in-law and learned to paint from her.  Florentino’s later designs were complex and filled with fancy flourishes while this design is modern and quite tight; possibly an early effort of his.   I lean towards Tona in this case, but lean more strongly in my complete affection for this fine early jar.

Condition excellent
Provenance An Albuquerque gentleman’s collection


Additional information




11" tall by 11" diameter