The Flower Vendor (Girl with Lilies)

Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886-1957)
Oil on masonite 
48 x 48 in. (121.9 x 121.9 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Mr. Cary Grant 
Accession Number:
© 2018 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 
On View

Rivera was among the leading North American artists of the twentieth century, best remembered for the public murals he painted throughout Mexico and the United States. He arrived at his distinctive brand of stylized naturalism after a decade in Paris (1909-1919), where he had befriended such European artists as Picasso and Duchamp and experimented with various avant-garde approaches. Pre-Columbian art of his native country, however, would present the key source for Rivera’s mature style, characterized by emphatic color, simplified forms, and a dramatic tension between flatness and three-dimensional modeling. The figure of the flower vendor formed a recurring theme in Rivera’s work, appearing both in his murals and in easel paintings like this one. The Indian girl, kneeling before her pile of calla lilies—a flower associated with funerals and death—constitutes an ode at once to the beauty of Mexico’s native cultures and to the suffering of her native peoples.


Cary Grant, Beverly Hills, by 1970, gift 1980 to;
Norton Simon Museum.

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