**A Tony Da turtle sculpture**pending confirmation
Lot 2066
A San Ildefonso polychrome turtle effigy
Sold for US$ 43,750 inc. premium

Lot Details
**A Tony Da turtle sculpture**pending confirmation **A Tony Da turtle sculpture**pending confirmation
A San Ildefonso polychrome turtle effigy
Tony Da, the four-color sculpture worked with a sgraffito band about the midsection, showing an avanyu motif with raincloud complements and turquoise bezels, the head with turquoise eyes and a polished red pattern on the buff background, finished with buff claws and red shell top.
height 5 1/2in, length 8 1/4in

Footnotes

  • Tony Da is a pivotal figure in the history of modern Pueblo pottery. A grandson of Maria Martinez (1887-1980) and a son of Popovi Da (1923-1971), his innovations in clay, during his brief fifteen year career, changed perceptions of native art. He was among the first men to make pottery, the first to inlay stone as part of the design and to use hei-shi beads and to lightly etch (sgraffito) designs into the surface of the clay.
    Tony was known for both his vessels and his figurative works. He made his first turtle in 1968 and over the course of his career he only made approximately fifteen turtles, eight of which were black while the others were red. The black-and-sienna turtles were only made for a brief time between 1968 and 1971. Of the eight black or black-and-sienna turtles, at least four of them are currently in museum collections.
    The first turtle was simplistic in form and was fired black. They quickly became more elaborate and realistic in form. The turtles were made as if he was making a bowl which was then turned upside down so the bottom became the top. The feet were sculpted and areas on the head and the back of the turtle would be stone polished. The head was a separate piece which was attached after the firing. Any of the sgraffito etching of design was done before the piece was fired and stones were inset afterwards. The pieces were signed in the clay before firing "DA". The location ranges from the foot to the shell to the back of the neck.
    Tony made the black-and-sienna coloration style an integral part of his pottery. After firing the piece to a gunmetal black, the back of the turtle, the nails on the feet and the eyes were re-heated to create the sienna coloration. This was always a risky process as the piece could shatter from the heat. The gunmetal coloration from the firing is most evident in the area around the rim of the shell with the water serpent (avanyu) design. Among his black-and-sienna turtles, only one of them, evolved to have a lid. The lidded pieces became more common among his red ware turtles.

    Charles S. King
    co-author of "The Life and Art of Tony Da"
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