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Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird by Frida Kahlo

Discover one of the artist’s best-known works.

The galleries are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visitors to the Ransom Center have the opportunity to view one of Frida Kahlo’s most iconic paintings: an untitled self-portrait known as Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. The oil-on-canvas painting from 1940 is one of 55 self-portraits painted by the artist during her lifetime, and its format—featuring a head-and-shoulders view of Kahlo—is typical of her style of portraiture during this period. The painting’s sophisticated composition and color selection, as well as its delicate brushwork, fine details, and skillful shading, mark it as a principal example of Kahlo’s mature-style portraiture.

Scholars have offered a variety of political, cultural, and religious interpretations of Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, which is often seen as a visual statement of Kahlo’s personal resilience and strength. The self-portrait has been exhibited worldwide; in recent years it has been the prominent feature of exhibitions exploring Kahlo’s place within twentieth-century modernist movements, her intellectual circle, her interest in the natural world, and her practice of collecting Mexican folk art.

Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907–1954) was a self-taught artist who began painting after a bus accident in 1925 left her seriously injured. Born in 1907 in Coyoacán, Kahlo was educated at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria. She married renowned Mexican artist Diego Rivera in 1929; the couple divorced in 1939 and remarried in 1940. During her lifetime, Kahlo’s work was exhibited in Paris, Mexico City, and in several cities in the United States. While best known as an artist, Kahlo was also a collector, teacher, and political activist. She died in 1954 after a period of increasingly poor health.

The Ransom Center acquired the self-portrait in 1965 as one of a large collection of artworks assembled by photographer Nickolas Muray (American, b. Hungary, 1892–1965), who purchased the painting from Kahlo. The collection, known as the Nickolas Muray Collection of Mexican Art, includes two other works by Kahlo—the 1951 Still Life with Parrot and Fruit and a 1930 drawing, Diego y Yo, inscribed by Kahlo to Muray—as well as a number of works by other Mexican artists active in the first half of the twentieth century.

Frida Kahlo self-portrait painting

Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907–1954), Untitled [Self-portrait with thorn necklace and hummingbird], 1940. Oil on canvas mounted to board. Nickolas Muray Collection of Mexican Art, 66.6 © 2020 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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