First Frida Kahlo’s First Painting Acquired By Boston Museum

January 29, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

The first Frida Kahlo painting ever sold entitled “Dos Mujeres (Salvadora y Herminia)” has been purchased by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for several million. Kahlo’s work was added to the MFA after it was slammed for not having a more diverse Latin American collection.

The first painting Frida Kahlo ever sold will be moving permanently to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. The painting entitled “Dos Mujeres (Salvadora y Herminia)” features two Mexican women – one of them has Indian features, and the other is paler with a gold hoop in her ear.

The pair is seen standing against dense, green leaves with fruit and butterflies. It is believed that the women worked as Kahlo’s maids, and it is claimed she was very close to her servants and even painted one of her employees’ deceased son. The pair was taking care of the famous artist after a violent car crash that left her spine and pelvis permanently damaged. Rhona MacBeth, conservator of paintings at the MFA, explained:

“They were her maids [who] worked in her house during her childhood, we believe. We’re still finding out more about them.”

Erica Hirshler, MFA senior curator of American paintings, who compared it to a Renaissance work, shared:

“She takes these working women, and she turns them into Madonnas.I love the idea that she was taking this idea from art history and using it to make these modern, obviously native Mexican women heroic. For me it really fulfills one of the things Kahlo is best known for: her celebration of Mexican folklore and identity.”

“Dos Mujeres” is the first piece sold by Kahlo, which was purchased directly in July 1929 by the American industrialist Jackson Cole Phillips. According to MacBeth, the reverse of the canvas has an inscription that reads a “pleasant evening” with the artist. MacBeth stated that “Dos Mujeres” left Mexico with Phillips in 1929 and it had remained in the family until the fall of 2015 when his estate decided to sell it.

The MFA acquired it in December for several million dollars, but would not give the exact amount. However, the museum was happy to reveal that the rare early painting is one of just 12 Kahlo paintings in America museums mainly because a 1984 law bans their export out of Mexico. MFA director Matthew Teitelbaum called the work “strong, beautiful, and iconic, it furthers our goal of representing artistic voices from across the Americas.”

“Dos Mujeres” was purchased after the MFA was criticized for not having a more diverse Latin American collection. The painting will be on view until March 1 in the museum’s Carol Vance Wall Rotunda. It will then be moved in the Art of the Americas Wing.

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