Self Portrait with Necklace of Thorns
In this painting, Frida paints herself in a frontal pose to enhance the immediacy of her presence. She has unraveled Christ’s crown of thorns and wears it as a necklace, presenting herself as a Christian martyr. The thorns digging into her neck are symbolic of the pain she still feels over her divorce from Diego. Hanging from the thorny necklace is a dead hummingbird whose outstretched wings echo Frida’s joined eyebrows. In Mexican folk tradition, dead hummingbirds were used as charms to bring luck in love. Over her left shoulder the black cat, a symbol of bad luck and death, waits to pounce on the hummingbird. Over her right shoulder the symbol of the devil, her pet monkey…a gift from Diego. Around her hair, butterflies represent the Resurrection. Once again, Frida uses a wall of large tropical plant leaves as the background.
Frida had previously painted a self-portrait that was meant for her lover, the photographer Nickolas Muray. However, after her divorce from Diego she had to sell the painting to raise money for a divorce lawyer. As a replacement, she painted this self-portrait for Muray.