Photographer Nickolas Muray

( 1892 - 1965 )


Nickolas Muray and Frida Kahlo
Plaza Hotel, New York City


Photo by Nickolas Muray

© Nickolas Muray Photo Archives


Frida with
Magenta Rebozo


Photo by Nickolas Muray

© Nickolas Muray Photo Archives


Nickolas was born in Szeged, Hungary on February 15, 1892. He attended a graphic arts school in Budapest where he studied lithography, photoengraving and photography and earned an international Engraver's Certificate. Later in Berlin, he studied color photoengraving. In 1913, at the age of 21, Muray migrated to New York City determined to make a name for himself. In 1921, while living in Greenwich Village, he opened a studio and quickly built a reputation as a celebrity photographer after photographing the actress Florence Reed for Harper's Bazaar. Over the next 10 years, Muray produced over 10,000 celebrity portraits.

In May of 1931, Nickolas met Frida Kahlo while vacationing in Mexico. They engaged in an affair that would last, on and off, for nearly 10 years. Muray's 1939 color photograph "Frida with Magenta Rebozo" became his best known portrait. Muray and Kahlo were at the height of their love affair in 1939 when the portrait was taken. The affair began after Muray was divorced from his second wife and shortly after Kahlo's marriage to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Muray wanted to marry Frida, but when it became apparent that she wanted Muray as a lover and NOT as a husband, the affair ended. In July of 1942 Muray married Margaret (Peggy) Schwab, a woman 24 years his junior. He and Kahlo remained good friends until her death in 1954.

Muray was also a champion fencer and an Olympic fencing medalist. On November 2, 1965, Muray died of a heart attack while fencing in New York City.

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