Preservation Magazine, Winter 2018

5 Pottery Pieces Stand Out at Oatlands

Every couple of months, a visitor will recognize the provenance of the glossy black pottery on display in the library at Oatlands Historic House & Gardens. “There’s nothing else in our collections like it,” says Josslyn Stiner, preservation manager at Oatlands, a National Trust Historic Site in Leesburg, Virginia. “People get really excited.”

The five boldly curved works are by internationally known artist Maria Martinez, who lived in San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico, until her death in 1980. No one knows for sure exactly when the Eustis family, the owners of Oatlands until they donated it to the National Trust in 1965, came across the pieces. But the staff speculates that Edith Livingston Morton Eustis purchased them in the early 1930s, while visiting her daughter Edith Celestine Eustis in New Mexico.

Martinez’s work built on traditional Puebloan pottery techniques, but she developed her own distinctive style of lustrous black pottery with matte black designs painted by her husband, Julian, and other family members. Art historians credit her with gaining recognition for this ancient Native American craft as fine art, and her pieces reside in the collections of the de Young Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Their presence at Oatlands underlines the Eustis family’s longtime interest in art and culture; David Finley, Edith L.M. Eustis’ son-in-law, served as the first director of the National Gallery of Art, and founded the National Trust in 1949.
The glossy black pottery pieces are on display at Oatlands in Virginia.

photo by: Scott Suchman

Three of the five pottery pieces on display in the library at Oatlands.

Headshot Meghan Drueding

Meghan Drueding is the executive editor of Preservation magazine. She has a weakness for Midcentury Modernism, walkable cities, and coffee-table books about architecture and design.

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