Painted in 1928, the same year he met his future wife Frida Kahlo (see fig. 1), Mujer mexicana portrays the artist's lifelong commitment to mexicanidad, a re-assessment and a re-appreciation of Mexico and its cultures. It is well known that Rivera was not a mimetic portraitist. Rivera often exaggerated or avoided the physical traits of his sitters for qualities he perceived to be more truthful. At times, he used expressionist motifs to enlarge certain body parts purely for impact. A particular affinity for Mexican exuberance is present in his easel portraits, particularly those he painted during the 1940s. In them, sumptuous dresses and accessories are treated with venerable affection. Executed in a smaller and more intimate format, the present painting differs greatly from this later production by revealing the quiet and dignified elegance of a young woman in demure clothing and candid disposition—an idealized testament to the people who would become the foundation of his work.
This painting is part of the National Heritage of Mexico and cannot be permanently exported from the country. Accordingly, it is offered for sale in New York from the catalogue and will not be available in New York for inspection or delivery. The painting will be released to the purchaser in Mexico in compliance with all local requirements. Prospective buyers may contact Sotheby’s representatives in Mexico City and Monterrey for an appointment to view the work.
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