Diego Rivera's Lost Painting
Several years ago, Robert Mc Donald, owner and founder of the Bond Latin Gallery, San Francisco, acquired a drawing depicting a flower festival by Diego Rivera.
More Than A Drawing
Upon examining the piece Mr. Mc Donald noticed a couple details that indicated that the drawing was a working drawing for a larger piece such as a large painting or mural. However, Mc Donald did not recognize the painting that the drawing corresponded to, nor could he find it in Diego Rivera's catalogue raisonne.
Mc Donald asked a friend in Mexico to contact the Diego Rivera Museum in Mexico City, to find out if someone at the museum knew something about the drawing. However, the museum was unable to find anything in their records indicating a larger work, which corresponded to the drawing. Mc Donald was still convinced that piece was in fact a working drawing because the evidence was so strong.
The first indicator the the piece was a working drawing for something larger was the presence of a grid, there were faint pencil marks across the drawing that created a barley noticeable grid across the entire height and width of the piece.
Mc Donald also noticed several parts of the drawing that had been erased, which is very peculiar for Diego Rivera, as Diego Rivera rarely erased anything in his drawings. The use of the eraser indicates that Rivera did not create the drawing as a final product but instead, used it as a working drawing for something larger.
When Mr. Mc Donald acquired the drawing, it came in a shabby, old frame. Upon removing the drawing from the frame, he found a note that appeared to be in Diego Rivera's handwriting.
The note exclaimed that the image was a cartoon drawing for a piece owned by Margarette Lopez of Fresno, California. Mc Donald looked her up and found a woman by the name of Margarette Lopez who lived and died in Fresno California.
He then visited the Fresno Art Museum's website and saw a close up picture of a painting by Diego Rivera that appeared to correspond with the drawing. Mc Donald contacted the museum and requested to see an image of the entire painting. The museum sent him an image. After seeing the image, Mc Donald had no doubt that it was the painting that corresponded to the drawing.
Diego Rivera's Catalogue Raisonne
Upon reviewing Diego Rivera's catalogue raisonne, Mr. Mc Donald discovered that the drawing and the painting, "Fiesta Pueblerina" were in fact included. However, the painting was dated 1931 as opposed to 1926 which is why no one was able to find the painting in the catalogue.
The reason Mc Donald knew that the painting was dated wrong as opposed to the drawing is because an associate of the Fresno Art Museum shared a series of letters with him between Diego Rivera and Margarette Lopez. These letters clearly stated that the painting was created in 1926 (the same year as the drawing).
Arte Mexicano: Legacy Of The Masters
The same year Mc Donald acquired the drawing and discovered the painting at the Fresno Art Museum, he was curating a show for Mexican fine art at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento, California. The show was called Arte Mexicano: Legacy of the Masters and included work by legends such as Rufino Tamayo, Leonora Carrington and of course, Diego Rivera.
The Fresno Art Museum agreed to lend the Crocker Museum the painting, so Robert Mc Donald was able to include both the drawing and the painting in the show. This is very unusual, to have both a painting and its working drawing side by side on the same wall, and was a terrific insight for museum goers into Diego Rivera's process as a painter.
Mr. Mc Donald also attached a photograph of the painting, "Fiesta Pueblerina" and Diego Rivera's original note to Margarette Lopez of Fresno California to the back of the drawing's frame, so that the history of Diego Rivera's lost painting will not be forgotten.