We are grateful to Professor Luis-Martín Lozano for his assistance cataloguing this work.
It has been said that Mexican muralist Diego Rivera was an artist of his time. That is certainly true as he not only embraced a deep commitment as a painter assimilating the “isms” and vanguards at the turn of the twentieth century, such as Cubism and Surrealism, as well as his own ideology which he put into practice through his murals, illustrations and easel paintings. Rivera felt a particular fascination for civilization’s turbulent changes as a result of both world wars, especially in the fields of science, technology, and humanism; one of the main reasons he developed close friendships and corresponded with an endless number of intellectuals, artists, scientists and inventors such as Albert Einstein, Charles Chaplin and Edsel B. Ford, just to mention a few. In his artistic production there are numerous famous portraits to be found in both the murals such as those executed in Detroit, San Francisco or Mexico City as well as the many individual easel paintings of all those who posed for him. Rivera had the artistic vision to explore his sitter’s psyche in order to capture through a few details, such as a gaze, hands, gesture, the personality and mood of his sitters. Such is the present work which although included in the artist’s catalogue oeuvre, had not, to the best of our knowledge, been seen by Rivera scholars or included in any exhibitions. The work is a portrait of Regina Rubinoff Tomars (1909-1993), wife of sociologist Adolph Tomars (1908-1985) who published his book, Sociology of Art in México in 1940. The Tomars collected works by Diego Rivera including drawings and watercolors that have previously sold at auction. Rivera executed a first portrait of Regina Rubinoff in 1939 (presently in a private collection in Mexico) and he again painted her in 1941, perhaps when the couple returned to Mexico to publish Tomars’s book on art and sociology. Regina Rubinoff was an extraordinary music, piano and composition instructor—a distinguished professor at the prestigious Julliard School in New York, where she taught and trained countless musicians and composers. Rivera was obviously fascinated by Rubinoff’s sheer presence—her deep eyes, her shapely brows, her eloquent hands, adorned with fine bracelets, beautiful rings and earrings and dazzling Mexican sliver necklace. This portrait reveals all her virtues fully as she sits on the typical Mexican equipal leather chair in Rivera’s studio in San Ángel, Mexico City in the 1940s.
Professor Luis-Martín Lozano, Mexico City