Diego Rivera


"Peon," 1923

Pencil on tan paper
Signed and dated lower left: D. Rivera
Image/Sheet: 11.25" H x 7.75" W

  • Provenance: The Artist
    Alma Lavenson (photographer), Mexico City, April 1926, acquired from the above
    Through descent from the above, to the present owner
  • Notes: Alma Lavenson purchased this drawing for her personal collection at the same time she pursued the purchase of a large oil on canvas by Rivera for her father through Albert Bender to donate to Mills College Art Museum's permanent collection. The work, Diego Rivera's "Mother and Child," 1926, is still one of the greatest works in the collection and one of the first works by Rivera to join an American Museum.

    In her notes on March 28th, Lavenson writes, "Some day when I have lots of time, I'll tell you all the wrong information and wild goose chases we have met with in our pursuit of Rivera. We have now discovered a lady in the Public Library who's a friend of his and who told us he hasn't been out of town at all, and gave us a letter to him which we are to present next Wednesday." On April 1st, at the Mancera Hotel, Lavenson writes, "At last we have finally met Rivera. We called upon him early this morning at his home, armed with the letter from the young lady at the Library.... We weren't at all sure how an Artist Temperament feels toward Tourists so soon after breakfast. In spite of the early hour, he had already gone out when we arrived, but his very beautiful wife (if that's what she is) received us in a purple brocade dressing gown and slippers, and showed us his pictures, promising he would return very soon. He had only about five oil paintings, as most of his time is being devoted to murals, and though our baskets seem to be most elastic in their capacity, I don't believe that I could get a mural in. There was one oil painting that I liked a great deal but I was uncertain about the price, so I thought I'd better consult the authorities at home first. There were several others that were very interesting but for one reason or another didn't seem just appropriate for... father to donate to Mills!

    At any rate, I got two sketches for him to give instead... one large crayon one which is perfectly beautiful, and a smaller pen and ink, showing a typical.. village scene. They may not be just what Mr. [Albert] Bender [a San Francisco Collector] wanted but, I felt safer about them, and he can always order the other painting if he wants. We were so enthusiastic about the sketches that we each got a small one for ourselves. Mine is a pencil sketch of the head of a peon...a perfectly lovely thing that I adore.

    Excerpted from: Susan Ehrens, "Alma Lavenson Photographs," 1990, pgs. 83, 85, 86
  • Condition: Overall good condition. A slight crease with toning to the upper left corner. Two small spots of discoloration in the upper right corner. A very slight handling crease in the lower right corner. Hinged in the upper and lower right and left corners to back mat.

    Frame: 21.25" H x 17" W x .75" D

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December 7, 2023 12:00 PM PST
Monrovia, CA, US

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