Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress
This is Frida’s first self-portrait. It was painted as a gift for her student boyfriend, Alejandro Gomez Arias, who had left her. It was given as a token of love by which she hoped to restore his affection and keep her in his thoughts. Her plea for his love worked and not long after Alejandro received the portrait, they were rejoined.
The aristocratic pose reflects Frida’s interest in the paintings of the Italian Renaissance period. This self-portrait is Frida’s interpretation of Botticelli’s “Venus” which Alejandro admired. The same style would later appear in her “Portrait of Alicia Galant“, 1927, and “Portrait of Adriana“, 1927.
Frida began this self-portrait in the summer of 1926 and sent it to Alejandro in late September. On the back of the painting she inscribed a dedication: “For Alex. Frida Kahlo, at the age of 17, September 1926 – Coyoacan -Heute ist Immer Noch” (Today still goes on).
In March of 1927, Alejandro’s parents sent him on a tour of Europe with his uncle…mainly to separate him from Frida, of whom they did not approve. Before leaving, he returned the painting to Frida for safe keeping.
This self-portrait was one of four paintings that Frida took to show Diego Rivera and ask his opinion of her work. After viewing the paintings, Rivera remarked that he was most interested in this self-portrait “…. because it is the most original” he said.