Maria & Julian Martinez
Maria Martinez (Maria Montoya Martinez) and her husband, Julian were the main artists and potters at the San Ildefonso pueblo near Santa Fe, NM. The pair is credited with introducing the key techniques and designs of both San Ildefonso and Santa Clara black on black ware pottery. Their work influenced artists with their carved and matte blackware pottery decorations with monochrome, polychrome, and black on black pottery.
After Maria and Julian discovered in 1918 how to produce the now-famous black-on-black pottery, they spent the remainder of their careers perfecting and producing it for museums and collectors worldwide.
This style of blackware is achieved by using a polishing stone to smooth over a glossy finish prior to the firing of the pot creating a high gloss design that has become the hallmark of pueblo pottery.
Maria Martinez is of the circle of other great pueblo potters such as Julian Martinez, Margaret Tafoya, Sefarina Tafoya, Rose Gonzales, Teresita Naranjo. She is in the lineage of Christina Naranjo and Sarafina Tafoya.
Dating your Maria & Julian Martinez pieces
Some Martinez pots are NOT signed. So, you should always have the pieces, not just the signatures, reviewed, researched and authenticated by Dr. Lori who can provide an accurate and proper evaluation of the pueblo pottery.
Early works by Maria and Julian Martinez approximately made between the years of 1918 to 1923 are unsigned. Pottery signed “Marie” was most likely made between 1920 and 1925 since it was made by Maria and then painted by Julian. Initially, Julian’s name was omitted from the signature since making pottery was considered women’s work. From 1925 until Julian’s death in 1943, Maria shared the signature with Julian and signed her name along with his name as “Marie + Julian”.
Following Julian Martinez’s death in 1943, Maria and Julian’s son Adam and his wife Santana helped Maria with the designs and the firing of her pottery. Pieces made between 1943 and 1954 are signed “Marie + Santana”. Maria used “Marie” to sign her pots because she was told that Marie was a more common name to the non-Indian public. She therefore signed the name “Marie” for about 30 years. In the middle part of the 1950s, Popovi Da began working with his mother, helping her with designing and firing her pottery. They began to co-sign pieces. Popovi Da started putting a date on each piece around 1959.