Martinez, Maria – Gunmetal Candlesticks (1920’s)
Thes are a classic pair of candlesticks by Maria Martinez and her husband, Julian. Maria would make the pottery and Julian would paint the design. These have a wide base and a short neck and are fully polished. They are fired to nearly a gunmetal coloration. This coloration was achieved by the heat of the firing. They are each signed on the bottom in the clay, “Marie + Julian”. It is most likely from the late 1920s. They are in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.
“Candlestick holders were created in clay at the various Pueblos by at least the 1920s. They were a folk art/functional form that was made for tourists, much like the “cigarette boxes” or ashtrays. Most of the candlestick holders were made to be used. Today, we may dismiss them for their craft and utilitarian form. However, we should also keep in mind the technical skill required to make them. The candlesticks from Santa Clara or San Ildefonso are made from native clay and most are fully polished. They are typically traditionally fired a deep black coloration so that they never discolor from smoke or flame. There is always a risk of traditionally firing something that is solid clay. Since so many candlesticks were used, they have not always remained in the best condition over the years. Finding pieces from the 1920s to the 1970s that have survived intact is a rarity. Today, few potters continue to make them but it is exciting when they continue this uniquely Pueblo variation of a most functional form.” Charles S. King