Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)
Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)

Retrato de Julieta

Diego Rivera (Mexican 1886-1957)
Retrato de Julieta
signed and dated 'Diego Rivera, 1945' (upper left)
oil on canvas mounted on masonite
22¼ x 16¼ in. (56.5 x 41.3 cm.)
Painted in 1945.
Galería Central de Arte Moderno Misrachi, Mexico City.
Mrs. N. Oglethorpe collection, Seattle.
Private collection, San Francisco.
Jeffrey S. Blumberg collection, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner (1984).
Exhibition catalogue, Mexican Art: From Past to Present, Holland, Michigan, Hope College, de Pree Art Gallery, 1984, no. 43 (illustrated).
Diego Rivera: Catálogo de Obra de Caballete, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 1989, p. 223, no. 1713 (illustrated).
Holland, Michigan, Hope College, de Pree Art Gallery, Mexican Art: From Past and Present, 4 April- 3 June 1984, no. 43.

Lot Essay

The Mexican painter Diego Rivera remains one of the most highly recognizable Latin American artists of the twentieth century-- his name synonymous with Mexico's artistic and cultural renaissance. Rivera was simultaneously a modernist precursor and pioneer, while also a leading exponent and visionary leader of the Mexicanidad movement whose impact would transcend national borders and reverberate throughout North and South America.

Throughout his illustrious career Rivera painted a variety of themes and subjects in his dynamic murals and easel paintings all the while remaining steadfast to the ideals of the Revolution in a singular body of work that embraces the nation's indigenous culture and history, while taking on the cause of the working and under classes, largely comprised of Indians and mestizos. With this socially engaged agenda came a repertoire of characters or social types that would occupy a central place in his art. And perhaps none were as pervasive as his images of young Mexican children, such as this tender rendering of an indigenous girl, Retrato de Julieta. Typically painted against a culturally charged backdrop or amid a veritable forest of local flora, or as in the present example seated against a neutral background, Rivera's Julieta does not shy away from gazing directly at the viewer in a composition that celebrates the simplicity and promise of childhood. As in other treatments of this subject, the sitter dominates the composition. Wearing a traditional red woven rebozo or shawl and a delicate ribbon to adorn her carefully braided hair, the young girl's overall scale appears almost statuesque vis à vis the space she inhabits. Yet, her demeanor and gaze suggests an almost ethereal, otherworldly presence which denotes the artist's dual intention to simultaneously depict the beauty and innocence of youth while transforming his subject into a timeless and enduring symbol of Mexican identity and the still nascent aspirations of its people in the post-revolutionary era.


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