Black Rock Galleries

Extremely Rare Laurette Lovell Francis (American, 1867-1936) Painted Clay Olla

Starting Bid $2,500.00

Location: Buncombe St, Raleigh

Item #: 247781
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Transport Fee: $45.00

Extremely rare Laurette Lovell Francis (American, 1867-1936) painted clay olla. Having a flared rim narrowing at the neck before becoming bulbous at the base. Intricately painted on all sides with Native American and Western imagery including a central portrait of the famed Native American leader and Medicine Man, Geronimo as well as a cowboy on horseback, a Native American girl holding a basket above her head and other imagery. Signed along a cactus. Atop a contemporary stand. Accompanied with period correspondence and documentation.

Only four known examples for Francis' ollas exist, three in the hands of private collectors, one in a museum; this would make the 5th now known to the world.

Provenance: Given to the consignor's great, great grandfather who was in the Army and was the Commander of the Knights of Pythias. During a trip to Arizona, he met the artist who painted the olla for him as a gift for his upcoming wedding.

Condition: Overall good with expected signs of wear including some minor scratching, would benefit from a professional cleaning.

Overall 15" h. x 14" diam.

Artist Biography from Jon Griffin, a direct descendant.

Laurette Lovell Francis arrived in Tucson with her family from California at the age of thirteen. The budding artist responded positively to the vastness of the landscape and the richness of the desert flora, as well as the romantic Spanish missions, Papago women and Apache warriors. However, she was particularly inspired by the ollas, or clay pots, crafted by the Tohono O’odham people, and began to decorate them with intricate scenes of ancient ruins and missions, Native American figures, and detailed desert scenery.

Although her unique works attracted immediate attention in and around the Tucson area–she even taught her technique to local students–National recognition of her efforts didn’t come until 1887, when one of her ollas was presented to General Nelson A. Miles as a reward for his part in the surrender of the Apache warrior Geronimo. The large vessel featured four separate Native American vignettes painted from photographic images provided by well-known “Wild West” photographer Camillus S. Fly. The piece was enshrined at the Haye Foundation Museum in New York and eventually gifted to the U.S. Military Academy Museum at West Point where Miles graduated.

In 1891, Ms. Lovell was appointed Lady Manager from the Territory of Arizona for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Exposition prominently featured a heretofore unheard of Women’s Pavilion, which housed examples of women’s artwork from around the world. The exposition not only proved to be a major advancement for the recognition of women as fine artists, but served as a springboard for their advancement in social, business and political arenas as well. Suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony said that the event did more for the woman’s movement than the previous twenty-five years of agitating.

Over time, Ms. Lovell’s own artwork expanded to include more traditional paintings on canvas, as well as designs on fine china and even wallpaper. Following her marriage to Will Francis in 1895, she settled in Los Angeles where she remained until her death on February 26, 1936.

Her works can be found on public display at the Heritage House Museum in Riverside, CA and the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson.


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