The present work is an outstanding painting commissioned during the 1940's, Rivera's productive decade for portraits. It was created for the Celebrity Bar at the Old Hearst Ranch in California. Mr. and Mrs. Marshall, the couple depicted in the painting, traveled to Mexico specifically to commission a portrait. They wanted to decorate their ranch, recently purchased from William Randolph Hearst and turned into a luxury resort. The resort received many prominent visitors and guests including among others Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, Hon. Herbert Hoover and Mr. Clark Gable.
The Marshalls spent three months in Mexico looking at works by various artists, including David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jos Clemente Orozco, before choosing Rivera. In addition to Rivera's eminence as a muralist, he was also much sought after for his portraiture, especially by visiting Americans. He painted many Hollywood celebrities, among them such luminous stars as Linda Christian and Paulette Goddard. With the same masterful dexterity that Rivera worked his canvases, he managed to charm the Marshall's into introducing him into the painting as the central character.
In the accompanying photographs, we can see one of the sittings in Rivera's studio in the winter of 1944. Rivera used the traditional portrait procedure and had the Marshall's pose in exactly the same position each afternoon. The only source of heat for the large studio was the small electric heater shown. The color, mood, and Mr. and Mrs. Marshall's bare arms therefore were all derived exclusively from the artists' imagination. Shown also are produce from the local market (bananas, pineapples, coconuts) which are used in the painting to create a tropical feeling in keeping with the theme of the Celebrity Bar.
The present lot incorporates all of Rivera's skills - as a portraitist and narrator and above all as the superb colorist for which he was renowned. The Marshall's had chosen the artist to paint this work to enhance their newly restructured resort. What they acquired was far more than just decoration, but rather a superb expression of the artist's boundless joy of painting.