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DIEGO RIVERA (1886-1957)

 
DIEGO RIVERA - Portrait of Enriqueta G. Dávila - oil on canvas - 79 1/8 x 48 3/8 in. DIEGO RIVERA - Portrait of Enriqueta G. Dávila - oil on canvas - 79 1/8 x 48 3/8 in. DIEGO RIVERA - Portrait of Enriqueta G. Dávila - oil on canvas - 79 1/8 x 48 3/8 in. DIEGO RIVERA - Portrait of Enriqueta G. Dávila - oil on canvas - 79 1/8 x 48 3/8 in. DIEGO RIVERA - Portrait of Enriqueta G. Dávila - oil on canvas - 79 1/8 x 48 3/8 in. DIEGO RIVERA - Portrait of Enriqueta G. Dávila - oil on canvas - 79 1/8 x 48 3/8 in. DIEGO RIVERA - Portrait of Enriqueta G. Dávila - oil on canvas - 79 1/8 x 48 3/8 in. DIEGO RIVERA - Portrait of Enriqueta G. Dávila - oil on canvas - 79 1/8 x 48 3/8 in. DIEGO RIVERA - Portrait of Enriqueta G. Dávila - oil on canvas - 79 1/8 x 48 3/8 in. DIEGO RIVERA - Portrait of Enriqueta G. Dávila - oil on canvas - 79 1/8 x 48 3/8 in.
Portrait of Enriqueta G. Dávila195279 1/8 x 48 3/8 in.(200.98 x 122.87 cm) oil on canvas
Provenance
Enriqueta Goldbaum de Dávila
Enriqueta Dávila Goldbaum, by descent from above
Private Collection, Houston
Private Collection, acquired from the above
Exhibition
Genoa, Italy, Palazzo Ducale, Frida Kahlo e Diego Rivera September 20, 2014 - February 8, 2015
Mexico City, Mexico, Museo Dolores Olmedo, Homenaje a Diego Rivera. Retratos, October 20, 2007 – January 2, 2008
Houston, United States, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, on short-term loan during 2007 Orizaba, Mexico, Museo de Arte del Estado de Veracruz., La brillantez previa
...More... al pincel,
May 11 – August 21, 2006
Xalapa, Mexico, Pinacoteca Diego Rivera, Los Cuatro Grandes, March - June, 2006 Mexico City, Mexico, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Diego Rivera: Una Retrospectiva, September 1986 - January 1987
Literature
García, Josefina. Homenaje a Diego Rivera: Retratos. Mexico City: Museo Dolores Olmedo, Patiño, 2007. p. 129. Print
Gutiérrez L. Cortés. Diego Rivera: Catálogo General de Obra de Caballete. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Dirección General de Publicaciones, 1989, p. 265. Print
Diego Rivera: Una Retrospectva. Ciudad de México: Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, INBA, Secretaría de Educación Pública, 1986. Print
Los Cuatro Grandes. Xalapa. Veracruz: Pinacoteca Diego Rivera, 2006. Print. Prignitz-Poda, Helga. Frida Kahlo e Diego Riera. Milano: Skira, 2014, cat. 252, pp. 146, 265
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“Painting is an essential function of human life. Wherever human beings live, painting has existed and exists. Painting is a language, as with words.” – Diego Rivera

History

In Diego Rivera’s portrait of Enriqueta Dávila, the artist asserts a Mexicanidad, a quality of Mexican-ness, in the work along with his strong feelings towards the sitter. Moreover, this painting is unique amongst his portraiture in its use of symbolism, giving us a strong if opaque picture of the relationship between artist and sitter.

Enriqueta, a descendent of the prominent Goldbaum family, was married to the theater entrepreneur, José María Dávila. The two were close friends with Rivera, and the artist initially requested to paint Enriqueta’s portrait. Enriqueta found the request unconventional and relented on the condition that Rivera paints her daughter, Enriqueta “Quetita”. Rivera captures the spirit of the mother through the use of duality in different sections of the painting, from the floorboards to her hands, and even the flowers. Why the split in the horizon of the floorboard? Why the prominent cross while Enriqueta’s family is Jewish? Even her pose is interesting, showcasing a woman in control of her own power, highlighted by her hand on her hip which Rivera referred to as a claw, further complicating our understanding of her stature.

This use of flowers, along with her “rebozo” or shawl, asserts a Mexican identity. Rivera was adept at including and centering flowers in his works which became a kind of signature device. The flowers show bromeliads and roselles; the former is epiphytic and the latter known as flor de jamaica and often used in hibiscus tea and aguas frescas. There is a tension then between these two flowers, emphasizing the complicated relationship between Enriqueta and Rivera. On the one hand, Rivera demonstrates both his and the sitter’s Mexican identity despite the foreign root of Enriqueta’s family but there may be more pointed meaning revealing Rivera’s feelings to the subject. The flowers, as they often do in still life paintings, may also refer to the fleeting nature of life and beauty. The portrait for her daughter shares some similarities from the use of shawl and flowers, but through simple changes in gestures and type and placement of flowers, Rivera illuminates a stronger personality in Enriqueta and a more dynamic relationship as filtered through his lens.

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“The secret of my best work is that it is Mexican.” – Diego Rivera

Top Results at Auction

Oil on canvas, 60 x 50 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 09 May 2018.

“The Rivals” (1931) sold for $9,763,000.

Oil on canvas, 60 x 50 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 09 May 2018.
Oil on canvas, 76 x 47 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 12 May 2021.

“Retrato de Columba Domínguez de Fernández” (1950) sold for $7,445,250.

Oil on canvas, 76 x 47 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 12 May 2021.
Oil on canvas, 31 1/4 x 39 in. Sold at Christie's New York: 11 March 2022.

“La bordadora” (1928) sold for $4,140,000.

Oil on canvas, 31 1/4 x 39 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 11 March 2022.
Oil on canvas, 31 3/4 x 25 3/4 in. Sold at Sotheby's New York: 16 November 2021.

“Nature morte aux trois citrons jaunes” (1916) sold for $3,287,000.

Oil on canvas, 31 3/4 x 25 3/4 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 16 November 2021.

Paintings in Museum Collections

The Detroit Institute of Fine Arts

“Edsel B. Ford” (1932), oil on canvas, mounted on masonite 39 x 49 in.

Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City

“Portrait of Lupe Marin” (1938), oil on canvas, 67 1/4 x 48 in.

The Cincinnati Art Museum

“Miss Mary Joy Johnson” (1939), oil and tempera on masonite, 41 1/2 x 21 1/2 in.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

“Portrait of Mrs. Carr (Retrato de la Sra. Carr)”, (1946), oil on canvas, 42 1/2 x 34 3/4 in.

Image Gallery

Additional Resources

Diego Rivera and The Rockefellers

Learn more about Rivera’s relationship with the Rockefeller family and the Museum of Modern Art by watching MOMA curator Leah Dickerman’s interview with David Rockefeller, Sr. and historian Peter J. Johnson.

Diego Rivera’s Murals at the National Palace

Learn more about how Rivera used his murals to portray the history of Mexico in this lesson from Khan Academy.

Diego Rivera and the Pan American Unity Mural

Explore SFMOMA’s virtual presentation of their exhibition “Pan American Unity: A Mural by Diego Rivera,” including this video of Rivera painting the monumental artwork.

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