Diego Rivera (1886-1957) Hilando (La tejedora) 22 3/4 x 20 7/8 in (57.8 x 53 cm) (Executed in 1936)

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Lot 29
Diego Rivera
Hilando (La tejedora) 22 3/4 x 20 7/8 in (57.8 x 53 cm)

Sold for US$ 200,000 inc. premium

Impressionist & Modern Art

13 Nov 2018, 17:00 EST

New York

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)
Hilando (La tejedora)
signed and dated 'Diego Rivera.36' (upper left)
watercolor and graphite on paper
22 3/4 x 20 7/8 in (57.8 x 53 cm)
Executed in 1936


  • The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Professor Luis-Martín Lozano.

    Dean & Jeanne Martin, Beverly Hills.
    Thence by descent.

    Bonhams is honored to offer this work by Diego Rivera from the Collection of the late Dean Martin and Jeanne Martin. Best known as an actor, comedian, singer and entertainer extraordinaire, Dean Martin – "The King of Cool" – was a member of The Rat Pack, along with fellow entertainers Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis, Jr. In 1949, Dean married Jeanne, a former Orange Bowl queen from Coral Gables, Florida. The couple had three children, together with four children from Dean's previous marriage. The rediscovered work being offered is shown in the background of a 1966 family portrait taken at their 601 Mountain Drive home in Beverly Hills. With an affinity for the arts of Mexico, Jeanne collected pre-Columbian pottery and in the Living Room of the Martin Ranch in Hidden Valley, California, she included traditional Mexican textiles – the very same type being woven in the present work.

    Diego Rivera, Hilando (La Tejedora)
    Professor Luis-Martín Lozano

    Diego Rivera has taken his place in the history of art as the most prominent painter of the 20th Century Mexican Muralist Movement. However, he was also the author of a notable body of easel paintings, watercolors and drawings which, because of their intimacy, are of unquestionable importance. Rivera lived in Europe for 14 years, from 1907 to 1921, returning to Mexico to take part in the cultural rebirth that followed the revolution. He had been a painter of the avant-garde, a renowned Cubist, a friend of Picasso, and a fixture on the international art market, but he returned to the country of his birth to paint murals as part of a grand project of national reconstruction termed by historians as a Mexican Renaissance. While he never renounced what he had learned in Europe, he also discovered the essence of Mexico, more so than any other painter of his time, and held a firm ideological conviction of the importance of re-evaluating the history and culture of the Mexican people, particularly of indigenous people, peasants and the most disadvantaged classes. His empathy for Mexican women and children as they went about their daily duties, faithful to their heritage and traditions, was reflected not just in his murals but also in drawings and watercolors such as the present example.

    Here, Rivera depicts with enormous dignity, an indigenous Mexican woman in the quiet task of weaving a textile using a traditional waist-loom, a technique which goes back to Pre-Hispanic times. Seated with her legs tucked under her, she is at one with her destiny. The composition allows a glimpse of her skillful weaving and of the similarly decorated clothes she is wearing. Diego Rivera addressed this theme on several occasions, particularly in the 1930s. This watercolor, signed and dated 1936, and previously unknown to scholars, is a version of a larger format oil and tempera painting of the same year used as one of Rivera's illustrations to Bertram D. Wolfe's Portrait of Mexico (New York, 1937, pl. 90) [another now at the Art Institute of Chicago] and of another watercolor, of the same year and format, which shows the same woman seated on a chair (recorded by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes; L. Cortés Gutiérrez (ed.), Diego Rivera: catálogo general de obra de caballete, Mexico City, 1989, p. 169, no. 1273).
    Rivera returned to the subject of Mexican indigenous women in other compositions, notably the beautiful oil of 1936 now in the collection of the Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona.

    Professor Luis-Martín Lozano
    Art Historian

    We would like to thank Professor Lozano for preparing this essay.

    Diego Rivera (1886-1957) ha trascendido a la historia del arte Universal como el más destacado de los pintores que participó en el Movimiento muralista mexicano del siglo XX. Empero, es también el autor de una notable producción de pinturas de caballete, acuarelas y dibujos, que por su intimidad son también de una trascendencia incuestionable. Después de haber vivido 14 años en Europa, entre 1907 y 1921, Diego Rivera regresó a México para insertarse en el Renacimiento cultural de la postrevolución. Tras haberse convertido en un pintor de la vanguardia, destacado cubista amigo de Picasso y ubicarse en un mercado internacional, retornó a su país para pintar murales como parte de un gran proyecto de reconstrucción nacional, que los críticos bien han denominado Mexican Renaissance. Sin renunciar nunca a lo que aprendió en Europa, Rivera descubrió las raíces de México, como quizá ninguno otro pintor de su época, y tuvo una firme convicción ideológica de revalorar la historia y cultura de los mexicanos, particularmente de los indígenas, campesinos y clases mas desfavorecidas. Su acercamiento amoroso a los niños y mujeres de México, en su diaria labor y la expresión de sus raíces, quedó reafirmado no sólo en sus grandes pinturas murales, sino en dibujos y acuarelas como la que ahora nos ocupa y que ahora sale a subasta.

    Aquí Rivera ha capturado, con enorme dignidad, a una indígena mexicana en su callada labor de tejer un textil a la manera tradicional del "telar a la cintura", el cual se remonta a la época prehispánica: postrada sobre el piso, asume su destino, dejando entrever la belleza artesanal de su ejecución, como también la vestimenta que lleva puesta. Este tema habría de ser tratado por Diego Rivera en numerosas ocasiones, particularmente en la década de los años treinta. Esta acuarela, firmada y fechada en 1936, que no estaba catalogada por los especialistas es una variante de una composición que ejecutó al óleo y temple, en un formato mayor y el mismo año, y que aparece reproducida en el libro: Portrait of México, publicada en Nueva York por Covici en 1937 (pl. 90); y asimismo de otra acuarela, del mismo formato y año, donde la mujer aparece sentada en una silla y la cual está catalogada por el Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (Diego Rivera: catálogo general de obra de caballete, México, 1989, p. 169, no. 1273).

    Sobre este tema de la mujer indígena mexicana tejiendo a la usanza tradicional, Rivera habría de regresar en otras composiciones, como la muy bella pintura al óleo sobre tela también de 1936, que custodia en su colección el Phoenix Art Museum.

    Profesor Luis-Martín Lozano
    Historiador del arte
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