This is a large, stunning, major storyteller by Francis Naranjo Suina one of the important Cochiti figurative potters of the mid-20th century.  According to Babcock, et al in their book The Pueblo Storyteller, Francis Suina learned to make smaller figures including singing mothers in the 1920’s.  By the 1960’s she was making larger storyteller figures “with many children”.  Francis was one of the 6 Cochiti figurative artists who participated in the 1973 “What is Folk Art at Santa Fe’s Museum of International Folk Art (see Babcock, Figure 11).  This is an absolutely superb example dating to perhaps the early 1970’s by a veteran artist still at the height of her powers.

From the write-up by Rutt Bridges: Frances was born in 1902 at San Ildefonso Pueblo.  She became an orphan when she was less than one.  She was the youngest of 5 daughters.  She is the daughter of Juan Roybal, first husband was Mr. Naranjo, second husband was Mr. Suina, mother of Louis Naranjo, Sarah Suina, 4 other children, mother-in-law of Virginia Naranjo, grandmother of Mary Edna Trujillo and Pauline Naranjo.

The numerous and wonderful features of this piece include: 1. one of the most beautiful and etherial faces I have ever seen on a storyteller Mother; she is lovely; 2. 4 babies, 2 in front, one under a blanket on the back and one also under the blanket, but peaking over the mother’s shoulder; 3. the children are beautifully created in their own right with bed clothes decorated with pottery designs; 4. the piece is amazingly large, over 11″ tall; 5. Babcock notes that she decorated the back of the mother with “Cochiti vessel designs-rainclouds, lightening, rain, scallops and stepped terraces with negative leaf motifs…”.   This piece includes many of these including especially beautiful cloud and rain designs.

Francis Naranjo Suina pieces are no longer readily available; figures of this quality, rarer still.  This is a showpiece for a collection of older Cochiti figures. We are so fortunate to have this fine work as well as the well known 1981 Bear Storyteller by Francis son Louis Naranjo (published as Plate 9 in Babcock) now online here and on sale as well.

Condition is excellent, original and unrestored

Provenance: The collection of Rutt Bridges