Lot 172
  • 172

DIEGO RIVERA | Retrato de Guadalupe "Pico" Rivera Marín

500,000 - 700,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Diego Rivera
  • Retrato de Guadalupe "Pico" Rivera Marín
  • Signed Diego Rivera (lower left)
  • Encaustic on canvas
  • 27 by 22 1/8 in.
  • 68.6 by 56.2 cm
  • Painted in 1925-26.


Guadalupe Marín de Cuesta, Mexico City (acquired from the artist)
Alfonso Ortega, Mexico 
Ruth Parker, Los Angeles
Helen Franklin Morton, Los Angeles (acquired from the above) 
Private Collection (by descent from the above) 
Steve Banks Fine Arts, San Francisco 
Acquired from the above on June 28, 1999 


New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Diego Rivera, 1931-32, no. 26, illustrated in the catalogue
Mexico City, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas, Diego Rivera, 50 años de su labor artística: Exposición de homenaje nacional, 1949, no. 247, illustrated in the catalogue


Berta Taracena, Xavier Villarrutia, Samuel Ramos & Gloria Taracena, Diego Rivera, Pintura de caballete y dibujos, Mexico City, 1979, no. 81, illustrated in color p. 96 (titled La Picos con Naranja)


This work is in beautiful condition. The canvas is stretched on an old if not original stretcher. The painting has probably never been cleaned, and the paint layer is dirty. The work is unvarnished. Around the extreme edges, there are some very old slightly discolored marks of paint, which may be original to the artist or may correspond to very old restoration. These are applied to some unpainted canvas around the edges. There seem to be two or three small spots of retouching in the base of the chair between the child's shoes. The work could be hung in its current state, but cleaning would make some improvements. (This condition report has been provided courtesy of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.)
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

A prolific young student at Mexico City’s famed Academia San Carlos, Guanajuato-born Diego Rivera left Mexico in 1911 for France, where he would remain until 1920. There, he became immersed in avant-garde circles, synthesizing diverse influences ranging from El Greco to Picasso in a brief but prolific period of Cubist production that ended in 1918. Before leaving Europe, Rivera spent time in Italy studying frescoes of the Quattrocento; there, he “found the inspiration for a new and revolutionary public art capable of furthering the ideals of the ongoing revolution in his native land” (Linda Downs, “Introduction,” in Diego Rivera, A Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit & traveling, 1986-88, p. 17). Upon his return to Mexico in 1921, under the patronage of the revolutionary Mexican government, he devoted himself fully to creating the mural cycle for the Secretaría de Educación Publica that launched his rise as a cultural icon in Mexico and abroad. During this time he met and married his second wife, Guadalupe Marín. Painted in 1925-26, Rivera’s tender portrait of his eldest daughter Guadalupe “Pico” Marín (born in August 1924) offers a synthesis of the plastic ideas he explored in Europe with the revolutionary social realist vocabulary of his murals. Rivera painted relatively few portraits during this early period and its intimate mood, hazy luminosity and geometric sensibility correspond to a markedly different artistic impulse than his well-known society portraits of the 1940s and 50s. Pico, leaning forward in a Mexican equipale chair, is clothed in a brilliant emerald green tunic and cloaked in a rich purple shawl. She gazes pensively out beyond the viewer, gently grasping a bright orange in her hand. Rivera manipulates the geometric patterning of the bricks and chartreuse rug behind her to flatten the picture plane, enhancing her solid pyramidal monumentality. The subtle panes of pink and olive that play across her rounded cheeks, in contrast with the gem-like tones of her garments and the glowing orb of the orange evidence the influence of Sonia Delaunay’s explorations on color in Rivera’s work, and the underlying architectonic harmony of the composition demonstrates his lingering interest in Cubist principles.

Rivera’s portrait of Pico can be understood both within the Western tradition of artists’ intimate depictions of their children and within his larger social realist project. Artists from Rembrandt and Vigée le Brun to Cassatt and Matisse have painted emotionally charged portraits of their children to explore the psychological complexities and unparalleled tenderness of these relationships. Here, Rivera’s light, unusually gauzy brushwork imbues the work with a gentleness and affection rarely seen in his oeuvre. Rivera’s murals, particularly the Secretaría murals painted during this period, are revolutionary not only in their overt messages of social justice but also in Rivera’s centering of Mexico’s most marginalized population, indigenous children: they dance, pray, work and eat throughout his monumental compositions. His modern project of social justice extended to his personal life; dressing his daughters in boys’ clothes and short hair from a young age, Rivera encouraged Pico and her younger sister Ruth to become athletic, intelligent and socially conscious. Rivera lends Pico here a gravitas and monumentality generally reserved for portraits of adult men, and a ponderous gaze that belies her acuity and spirit.

In this delicate, poignant portrait of Pico, Rivera clothes his daughter in the trappings of Modernism and imbues her with profound mexicanidad

We wish to thank Professor Luis-Martín Lozano for his kind assistance in confirming the authenticity of this lot.