Portrait of Natasha Zakólkowa Gelman Diego Rivera Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This stunning portrait of Natasha Zakolkowa Gelman was created by Diego Rivera in 1943. It features several different elements which were typical of the artist's work, including a beautiful reclining woman and also some cala lilies in the background.

The tall, elegant woman wears a tight-fitting white dress which is open just below the knee. It cuts low across her chest and features a small amount of detail on the left hand side, but in the main is plain white. Her shoes are silver in tone and perhaps high heels, though this is not shown in the painting. She has a relaxed, alluring pose and leans on her left arm whilst looking directly at us. She is upon a simple blue couch which is approximately the same length as the model, and behind her is a flurry of long flowers which provide additional aesthetic interest to the piece. Natasha Zakolkowa Gelman has several items of jewellery upon her, such as a thick watch or bracelet, plus some rings. Her curly red hair is instantly noticeable and reaches down to the shoulders. She has minimal makeup, with a touch of red lipstick and blushed cheeks which avoids over doing her sophisticated appearance.

Whilst she was known to be particularly tall, artist Rivera may have elongated her body plus the stems of the flowers slightly beyond reality for this painting. Her legs, for example, seem unfeasibly long in comparison with the rest of her body and this may have been an attempt to increase this image of beauty as perceived by the viewer of the painting. Rivera worked within a conteporary style though had studied traditional art in great detail, both within his native Mexico and also across in Europe whilst living there for a number of years. he would take much from the likes of Giotto but always retain a strongly unique approach, as well as dabbling with different styles from time to time, such as Cubism in the 1910s. Portrait of Natasha Zakólkowa Gelman fuses many of his different influences together, arriving at it did in 1943, by which time most of his development as an artist had been completed.

Natasha Zahalka Gelman was a Czech who emigrated to Mexico with her husband, Jacques Gelman, who himself was from St Petersburg, Russia. Jacques had built a reputation as a media mogul of sorts and so commanded a strong position in society at the time. They became art collectors and became entirely passionate about this new direction, building up a solid collection of work which would later be gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the US. They became particularly interested in 20th century art and would spend time in the company of some of the greatest names in western art at that time. Rivera and Kahlo would therefore have appealed to their tastes, because of their connections to contemporary art, cubism and surrealism, as well as offering something a little different thanks to their Mexican roots.