"RIVERA PUT HIS STAMP ON MEXICO THE WAY BERNINI PUT HIS ON ROME": PRESENTATION FIRST EDITION OF PORTRAIT OF MEXICO, 1937, BOLDLY INSCRIBED BY DIEGO RIVERA
RIVERA, Diego and WOLFE, Bertram D. Portrait of Mexico. New York: Covici, Friede, (1937). Quarto, original tan cloth, original pictorial dust jacket. $2200.
First edition of this seminal collection of Rivera's paintings and frescos, a distinctive presentation copy inscribed on the title page by him in Spanish, "Mi respetuoso homenaje y grande admiracion para la persona de la Señora C— B— de B— E—y con mis mejores recuerdos para el Señor R— B— E—, su esposo. Diego Rivera, San Angel, 9 de Agosto 1939" (My respectful tribute and great admiration for the person of Mrs. —- and with my best memories for Mr. —-, her husband. San Angel, 9 of August, 1939), featuring over 250 handsome black-and-white illustrations of his work, many from photographs by Modotti and Álvarez Bravo, featuring never-before published images of Rivera's frescos at Mexico City’s National Palace and Ministry of Health, in original dust jacket.
Inscribed by Diego Rivera, this presentation first edition of Portrait of Mexico was co-authored by the artist and Bertram Wolfe, who would soon publish his critically acclaimed biography of Rivera in 1939. As Wolfe notes, Rivera's paintings reveal Mexico "at work and at play, rejoicing and sorrowing, building and dreaming" (29). In his own study of Rivera, Pete Hamill similarly observed: "Rivera put his stamp on Mexico the way Bernini placed his on Rome. It is impossible to think of Mexico today without also seeing the images of Diego Rivera" (Diego Rivera). Portrait of Mexico brings together in one volume images of Rivera's inimitable artistry: views of his evocative easel paintings and celebrated frescos from Mexico City's Ministry of Education, Chapingo's National Agricultural School and the Palace of Cortez at Cuernavaca, along with previously unpublished views of murals at Mexico City's National Palace and Ministry of Health. Also featured are images of Rivera's frescos at the Hotel Reforma before Alberto Pani (who commissioned the murals) ordered their mutilation. Pani's action sparked a court case that allowed Rivera to restore the works, although Pani later removed the panels and kept them in storage for decades. Containing 257 black-and-white photogravures (most full page), many from photographs by Tina Modotti and Manuael Álvarez Bravo. The recipients, Caterina Bivas de Block Eichholz and her husband Robert Block Eichholz, were well-respected art collectors.
Interior fine, faint foxing to cloth; chipping to spine ends, v-shaped tear to lower front panel of pictorial dust jacket. An extremely good copy, very scarce inscribed.