Sanchez, Russell – Polychrome Jar with Birds, Sun and Lid
This is an exceptional lidded water jar by Russell Sanchez. He continues to be one of the true innovators in Pueblo pottery. Each piece is perfectly coil built, stone polished and etched. This jar is a classic early San Ildefonso shape with a round shoulder, sloping sides and a turned out neck. The base is polished black and the shoulder is polished a deep red. It is painted “black-on-red” around the shoulder. The main design area is polished with a cream-colored clay slip. There are two large birds etched into the clay and they are separated by two sun designs. Each of the design areas is highlighted with additional black and red clay slips. The neck is etched with a mountain design and finally, the rim is polished a deep red. The complementary colors and the variations of polished and matte areas on the jar are stunning! There is wonderful detail throughout the entire piece. The lid is fascinating, as the style is one found on some of the earliest San Ildefonso lidded pieces from the 1880’s. The top half of the lid is polished black while the border is polished with the cream colored clay. The jar has five bands of jet (black) hei-shi beads. As Russell continues to innovate from historic designs, he says, “Tradition means moving forward and adding to it. You keep moving forward. If we stayed stagnant we would no longer exist.” The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay. The last photo is an example of this style of lid on an early San Ildefonso polychrome jar. It is exciting to see how this imagery is not new but Russell’s reinterpretation of it both modernizes and revives.
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