Diego Rivera did produce a number of self portraits across his career but it cannot be said to have been one of his more commonly visited genres. He was an outward looking individual who was happier when focusing on the poorer elements within Mexican society. He developed into a proud and committed socialist who would put many of these themes into his work as his career progressed, and some of his patrons who commissioned murals would specifically require it. In this self portrait we can enjoy a simpler self reflective piece, as he looks directly at us whilst smoking a pipe. Rivera has a small glass beside him, with a bottle of beer on hand ready for refills. Only that fragment of the table is included, to display these two items but to leave the rest out. He leans his right elbow on the table, whilst being sat next to a wall, perhaps in the corner of a small bar. The artist's clothing is thick and hard wearing, smart but not overly extravagant.
Cafes and small bars would have their own unique atmosphere which inspired many European artists who often focused on the controversial beverage, Absinthe. Rivera was aware of such a genre from his time living in Europe and chose here to produce his own take on this type of work which was most common during the Impressionist era. Paris was filled with establishments such as this, though Rivera's experiences were in Spain. He captures the atmosphere of these venues with a hat carefully chosen, giving him a mysterious quality. Everything in the composition is carefully selected and placed to create the perfect depiction of these cosy bars and cafes. In his younger years at the time, Rivera would surely have loved to come to places such as this, whether working as an artist or simply to meet new people.
This painting can be found in the Museo Dolores Olmedo where it helps to form a fairly formidable collection which is focused most on Mexican art. To be able to call upon a rare self portrait by Rivera is quite a luxury for any Mexican museum, and the piece is regularly promoted as one of its biggest highlights. Of even more significance is the inclusion of a number of Frida Kahlo paintings within the gallery as well, including a portrait of her husband, Diego, in a piece titled Diego and I from 1944. Their lives cannot be entirely separated by historians and this is reflected within Mexican galleries, where their work is often displayed together. Despite their problems which led to a temporary separation and divorce, before re-marrying, they never lost their deep love for each other and this would inspire a large number of paintings within both of their careers.