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.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.