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Tonita Roybal (1892-1945)Tonita Roybal

Tonita Roybal

Juan Cruz and Tonita Roybal working on their pottery. Photo by T. Harmon Parkhurst, Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA), 004032.

Tonita Roybal (1892-1945) has been called, "One of the finest potters of the twentieth century". She learned to make pottery from her mother, Dominguita Pino Martinez (1860-1948). Her brother, Cresencio Martinez (1879-1918), married Anna Montoya (Maria's sister). She was also an aunt to Santana Roybal, who later married Adam Martinez (Maria's son). Tonita was married twice. Her first husband was Alfredo Montoya (1890-1913) and then in 1916 she married Juan Cruz Roybal (1896-1990). Among her descendants are JD Roybal (painter) and Margaret Lou Roybal-Gutierrez (potter). Tonita began making pottery in 1909. Beginning in 1917, Juan began painting some of her pottery and after 1930 he painted a majority of the pieces. When Tonita made the pottery and did the painting, these pieces were signed, "Tonita". When she made the vessel and it was painted by Juan, then they were signed, "Tonita and Juan". Kenneth Chapman commented in a letter on the quality, and value of her work at the time, "Tonita Roybal does equally fine work, and I may be able to get just what you want from her if Maria does not get back to work soon. Tonita won first prize for her oldfashioned red San Ildefonso ware, with decorations in black (black-on-red pottery). Her husband, Juan Cruz runs Julian a close second in decorating pottery. She put a price of $12.00 each on jars 8" in diameter and got it! It is hard on some of us poor ethnologists who have been encouraging it, but it has made a wonderful difference in San Ildefonso life, and we are strong for it". Tonita's mother was famous for her "black-on-red" style of pottery, and this was a style which Tonita quickly mastered. After 1920 and the advent of black-on-black pottery, Tonita invented the red-on-red style with the white outlines. Both Tonita and Juan were fascinated by pre-historic pottery. Those designs and their influences can often be seen in their work. After 1913 she began, "combining the layout of Nampeyo's Sikyatki revival style with elements from Acoma and elsewhere". By 1925 Tonita was at the peak of her career. Her early death in 1945 left only a small amount of creative and innovative work that still inspires us with it's unique use of varied Native designs from pre-historic to regional in influence. Click Here to Learn More about Early San Ildefonso Potters!

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Roybal, Tonita – Jar with Reverse Feather Design (1920’s)

Tonita Roybal remains one of the great innovative names in San Ildefonso pottery.  This jar reflects the exceptional nature of her pottery designs, shapes, and firing.  The jar has a round shoulder and then and a slight indention before extending up to the neck.  The jar itself is very highly polished and beautifully painted.  The design is interesting with a reverse feather pattern which extends up from the base.  What is interesting is the design leaves more open space and draws the eye to the shoulder.  The jar is fired to a gunmetal appearance with areas which even have a gold-tone coloration.  This “goldtone” is a rarity in her work and one which was achieved in the firing. The jar has a very metallic appearance with just the touch of yellow or gold in the light.  The jar is from the 1920’s and it has its original sticker on the bottom.  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  It is signed, “Tonita” in the clay on the bottom.  As a provenance, the jar was de-acquisitioned from the American Indian Culture Research Center in Marvin, South Dakota.  It still has the tag for its catalog number of 00251.

Early San Ildefonso Pottery Innovators -1920-1940

 

$ 1,600.00
Roybal, Tonita – Large Plate with Feather Design (1920’s)

Tonita Roybal remains one of the great innovative names in San Ildefonso pottery.  This is a very early plate by Tonita.  The entire piece is fully polished, including the front and back.  On the front, it is painted with a feather pattern in the center.  The feathers are the early style, as now how the rectangular matte area is at the center of each feather.  Later, they potters would move the rectangular section off to the side.  This earlier style is more reflective of the Mimbres pottery feather patterns.  Around the rim of the plate is a cloud and rain design.  The circular design with three lines on the rim of the plate was described as a “tassel on a man’s dance belt” by Maria Martinez in 1925.  The plate is fired a deep black.  It is in good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.  There are some surface scratched, one of which is in the center plainware area.  However, considering it’s age and the size, they are not exceptionally unusual or distracting.   The plate is signed on the back “Tonita”.  It is her earliest signature which is very tight and compact.  Definitely a striking piece for its size!

Early San Ildefonso Pottery Innovators -1920-1940

 

 

$ 1,500.00
Roybal, Tonita – Bowl with Geometric Rain Designs (1920’s)

Tonita Roybal remains one of the great innovative names in San Ildefonso pottery.  This smaller jar has her classic sharp shoulder and sloping neck.  The neck has a geometric rain and cloud pattern.  Note the small design with the three rows of rain. This particular design is one which she often used on her pottery.  Sometimes it was attached to the other designs, sometimes simply floating on the polished surface.  The bowl is highly polished and fired to a great gunmetal coloration.  It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Tonita”.  It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

$ 625.00
Roybal, Tonita – Bowl with Cloud and Water Designs (1930’s)

Tonita Roybal is one of the great innovative names in San Ildefonso pottery.  This is a classic shape with the sharp shoulder.  The sloping area to the neck was painted by her husband, Juan Cruz.  The design is wonderful in the flowing pattern with a cloud design at the top and a water design at the bottom.  However, they are mirror images and the result is a pattern which has a very modern appearance.  The bowl is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Tonita + Juan”.  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

Early San Ildefonso Pottery Innovators -1920-1940

 

$ 1,050.00
Roybal, Tonita – Gunmetal Bowl with Mountain & Wind Designs (1920’s)

Tonita Roybal is one of the great innovative names in San Ildefonso pottery.  This is one of her “gunmetal” fired bowl.  The metallic coloration is achieved using a very high fire to heat the bowl and create an intense silver appearance on the surface. This bowl is one of her classic shapes with a sharp shoulder.  The designs are mountain, wind and rain patterns.  Note the delicate lines of the painting on the bowl!  The bowl is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Tonita”.  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

Early San Ildefonso Pottery Innovators -1920-1940

$ 1,200.00
Roybal, Tonita – Water Jar with Avanyu Design (1920’s)

Tonita Roybal is one of the great innovative names in San Ildefonso pottery.  This is a classic shape for Tonita, with the low, round shoulder and the turned out rim.  What is unusual is the use of the avanyu or water serpent, as the design.  She painted a variety of designs, but very rarely depicted the water serpent on her pottery. The jar here is fired to a near gunmetal finish and it is delicately painted and beautifully polished.  It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Tonita”  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

Early San Ildefonso Pottery Innovators -1920-1940

$ 1,800.00
Sale!
King, Charles S., “Spoken Through Clay”

Spoken Through Clay

A NEW  RELEASE SPECIAL:  $95.00, including shipping (US)! Check out the new review in the Denver Post!

 Just a few things which make this book unique!
*   The size!  The book is 11.75″ x 14.25″ and weights over 8 pounds!
*  The photography of the pottery is stunning, emphasizing the individual pieces.
*  Each caption is the artist discussing the individual piece on the page.
*  The artist “biographies” are from interviews with the artists and they discuss their art, culture, lives and history.
*  Organization: The book is not organized by pueblo or family, but entails new ways to think about the future of Native pottery.
*  Printing in Italy gives the book very high quality color and paper.
* The photos of the living artists were taken by Will Wilson using a tin-type process. He was a recipient of the 2107 New Mexico Governor’s Award for the Arts in photography!
*  The book features work by more than 30 contemporary potters and more than a dozen important historic potters.
*  There are essays by myself, Peter Held and Eric Dobkin.  They add to the overall understanding of the project a historic perspective.

_____________________________________________

August 18, Pasatiempo Review

“Charles S. King’s new book, Spoken Through Clay: Native Pottery in the Southwest, The Eric S. Dobkin Collection, is spectacularly heavy —which is a problem from a practical standpoint, because once you open it, you won’t want to put it down. With dreamy tintype artist portraits by Diné photographer Will Wilson, dazzlingly crisp images from Addison Doty, and intimate first-person essays written by dozens of artists, the book is a visually delicious, intellectually consuming foray into historic and contemporary Southwestern pottery. In short, prepare to swoon.

If you’re thinking of this as a coffee-table book, you’ll need to imagine a decently sized coffee table. The book is more than a foot tall and, when opened, two feet wide, but its outsize appearance belies the often delicate beauty of its contents: hundreds of individual pieces of pottery from Eric S. Dobkin’s exquisitely curated collection — arguably the largest and most important of its kind. Gallery owner, author, and Pueblo pottery expert King designed Spoken Through Clay to be approachable for those unfamiliar with Native American pottery. “In the age of social media, I wanted to make the book both visually striking and personal,” King said. The book opens with essays by King, Dobkin, and curator Peter Held, who calls clay “the most archival of materials … seductive, sensuous, responsive, geologic, and malleable.”

“I wanted the end result of the book to be that the reader would connect with the artists in a personal way, beyond just the art, and understand the time it takes to become an artist, to achieve success,” King said. Sprawling yet intimate, Spoken Through Clay introduces its readers not just to the beauty of Southwestern pottery but also to the fascinating stories of the people who make it.Iris McLister, Pasatiempo

____________________________________

“It’s one of the things that makes us who we are. It’s what holds our family together. We are a family of potters. It’s our identity. People don’t realize how much work goes into it just processing the clay and making it. You have to do it with your heart.”—Linda Tafoya-Sanchez

 

FEATURED ARTISTS Grace Medicine Flower • Dextra Quotskuyva • Autumn Borts-Medlock • Jody Naranjo • Harrison Begay Jr. • Jordan Roller • Sara Fina Tafoya • Lonnie Vigil • Margaret Tafoya • Steve Lucas • LuAnn Tafoya • Loren Ami • Toni Roller • Popovi Da • Linda Tafoya-Sanchez • Mark Tahbo • James Ebelacker• Yvonne Lucas • Jeff Roller • Lisa Holt • Harlan Reano • Nampeyo • Jacquie Stevens • Nathan Youngblood • Jacob Koopee Jr. • Jennifer Moquino • Christopher Youngblood • Maria Martinez • Tony Da • Tammy Garcia • Virgil Ortiz • Joseph Lonewolf • Johnathan Naranjo • Nancy Youngblood • Les Namingha • Russell Sanchez • Christine McHorse • Richard Zane Smith • Rondina Huma • Susan Folwell • Dominique Toya • Jody Folwell

Spoken Through Clay features the pottery of iconic Native American artists from historic potters Nampeyo and Maria Martinez, to contemporary potters Tammy Garcia, Virgil Ortiz, and many others, are featured in a new book published by the Museum of New Mexico Press. Spoken Through Clay: Native Pottery of the Southwest showcases nearly three hundred pottery vessels from the acclaimed Eric S. Dobkin Collection, covering a wide range of mostly Pueblo artists from the Southwest.

“The physical scale of the vessels combined with the depth of the contemporary collection [is] breathtaking,” says author Charles S. King. The book is part of a “transitional process of looking to the clay, the vessel, and the potter’s voice and allowing the pieces to stand on the merit of their artistic integrity.”

The book includes portraits and voices of renowned potters speaking about their artistry and technique, families, culture, and traditions. Many of the artists are connected by Pueblos, generations, or family members. Dynamic color photography captures the depth and dimension of the pieces, while the artists provide an illuminating perspective through narrative captions. Artists, academics, collectors, family members, and gallerists add additional insight about the lives, historical context, and importance of these potters and their work.

SPOKEN THROUGH CLAY Native Pottery of the Southwest The Eric S. Dobkin Collection
By Charles S. King Essay by Peter Held

Artist portraits by Will Wilson
ISBN: 978-0-89013-624-9

352 pages, 320 color plates, 40 artist portraits

Publication Date: August 01, 2017
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Charles S. King is the author of Born of Fire: The Life and Pottery of Margaret Tafoya, The Life and Art of Tony Da, Virgil Ortiz: Revolt 1680/2180, and numerous articles on Pueblo pottery. He has served on boards of art associations, judged pottery at prestigious events, and lectures about the art form. His business King Galleries represents many of today’s leading Native potters and important historic works in clay. Charles lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

$ 125.00 $ 95.00
Roybal, Tonita – Oval Shallow Bowl with Lightning Designs (1920’s)

This is a charming open bowl by Tonita Roybal, from the 1920’s.  It is either a small plate or a small dish.  It is oval and has a slight rim.  The bowl is painted on the inside with a lightning and cloud pattern.  The piece is polished which creates a strong contrast for the design.  The bowl is signed on the back in the clay, “Tonita”.  It is in very good condition with no cracks, restoration or repair. There are few tiny dings on the rim.  Amazingly, the center of the piece is in excellent condition!

 

$ 675.00
Roybal, Tonita – Jar with Lightning & Bird Feather Design (1920’s)

This is an classic jar by Tonita Roybal, from the 1920’s.  What is most distinctive about this jar is the shape, which Tonita originated, with the very sharp shoulder. The entire bowl is fired and the area from the shoulder to the rim is painted.  The design is a bird feather and lightning design.  There is also a very unusual comb-like pattern, which is meant to represent wind and rain.  The bowl has been traditionally fired outside, so there are color variations from gunmetal to brown. There is a small area of black and brown below the shoulder which is most likely from a piece of wood touching the piece during the firing.  It might also be from the Tonita herself touching the piece with some wood, as early potters would often touch the pots with a stick during the firing to give them character.  Either way it is part of the charm of the firing process.  The bowl is from the late 1920’s and signed, “Tonita”.  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

$ 1,100.00
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