This is a magnificent jar by an often overlooked master potter, Nestora Silva. The jar is signed “Nestora” on the base and likely created in the 1930’s for a rapidly emerging art market for fine Santa Clara pottery. According to Blair and Blair, the Fred Harvey Detours began in 1926 and where once there had been only occasional visitors to Santa Clara pueblo, there were now regularly scheduled rides from La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe’s Plaza directly to the pueblo. The effect of this new trade included a demand for highly polished, blemish free pottery, requiring firing at lower temperatures and protecting the pottery from firing fuel (manure and pinon pine pitch) adhering to pots’ surface. This majestic and beautiful jar would seem to date to the early years of this increased trade.
The jar has a typical flaring rim, large bear paw design in the neck and a very wide (15″) mid-body. The polish is all over and beautiful. There are golden highlights bleeding through the black. At this early stage of the modern pottery market, the demand for total black in the pot created by more complete smothering during the firing process, requiring far more manure was still a detail of the future. In fact, these highlights help to place the age of the pot towards the earlier years of the emerging art market for Santa Clara pottery, perhaps late 1920’s to early ’30’s.
This jar is a masterpiece; beautiful large, with dramatic presence and gorgeous stone polish. With the two wonderful jars in this show, perhaps Nestora Silva’s name will be remembered again with the respect she deserves.
Condition is remarkable for an 80 year old jar, with just a few minor abrasions visible along the mid-body.