Some of the Most Expensive Diego Rivera Art Sold at Auction

July 11, 2016

Diego Rivera (1886 - 1957), a renown Mexican painter and muralist, started studying art when he was 11 years old at the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico City and continued learning throughout his life. In 1902, tough, Rivera was expelled from the academy because he had led a student protest after the dictator Porfirio Díaz was reelected president of Mexico. So, while not going to school, Rivera travelled all over Mexico and painted. At that time, Teodoro Dehesa Méndez was the governor of Veracruz, Mexico. He was also known for funding artists, and after he heard about Rivera's talent, he agreed to pay for his studies in Europe. That is how Diego Rivera got himself in Madrid in 1907, where he worked in the studio of Eduardo Chicharro. Two years later he moved to Paris, where he was influenced by the work of the impressionist painters, and then got more inspiration from the post-impressionists. When he had left Paris, Rivera was travelling across Europe which made him learn and experiment more with different painting techniques and styles, before returning to Mexico in 1921.

While still in Paris, Rivera had become friends with some of the best creatives at the time, such as painters Amedeo Modigliani and Moïse Kisling, writer Ilya Ehrenburg, and many others. It was the time of cubism expanding in the Paris, and Rivera was impressed with artworks of Picasso and Braque, so he embraced the style himself. All those years in Paris, actually, determined the rest of his career.

Eventually, Diego Rivera had crafted his own style. Influenced by many creatives, Rivera decided to simplify the forms, to enter vivid colours in his paintings, and make them precise, direct and realistic. As a Marxists, a communist, and a lifelong believer in the social justice, leftist ideas were often depicted in his art. Besides that, he was inspired by the Mexican land and natural wealth, by the history of a nation, by traditional food and drinks, by beautiful women, science, and art. His career spanned over 50 years, and besides being and exquisite painter, Diego Rivera was one of the world’s famous mural creators, too. Some of his best mural work can be seen across Mexico and the United States, especiallty the series in Detroit, but Rivera had always intrigued the public with something other than his art as well – his love life. His marriage with Frida Kahlo, and then the divorce, and another reunion afterwards made them one of the most popular and most talked about couple in the history of art.

Now, let’s go back to Diego Rivera’s art. His works are very popular among art collectors around the world, who do not hesitate to 'loosen their wallet' to get their favourite piece for enlarging their collections. Due to its nature, mural art of Rivera cannot be sold away so easily, but it's another story with the painted pieces. What do you think, what was the most expensive Diego Rivera’s art sold in auctions? Well, you are about to find out! Scroll down for the full list of 10 Rivera’s artworks with highest prices in auctions.

Featured image: Diego Rivera - Image via

Vendedora de Alcatraces, 1938

Vendedora de Alcatraces is a signed and dated watercolour gouache on paper artwork by Diego Rivera, sized 134.5 x 191 cm. It depicts a woman flower seller, like many other works of his. He didn’t choose only political figures for his work, but rather the ordinary people, workers, farmers, and popular characters of Mexico. Here, a woman is surrounded with bundles of Cala lilies, with one of them in her hands, like being ready to sell it to the customer. We see a moment of an ordinary day in the life of this young flower seller. This particular piece of art by Diego Rivera was sold in 1994 at the Christie’s New York auction house, for a price that actually doubled the first estimated value. The price it was sold for turned out to be a convenient round number - $1,000,000.

More about auction info you can find here.

Featured image: Diego Rivera - Vendedora de Alcatraces, 1938 - Image via

Vendedora de flores en Xochimilco, 1929

Once again, one of the Diego Rivera’s paintings depicting a flower seller was valued very high. This oil on canvas appears somehow more sophisticated than his usual presentation women and girls selling flowers. With back turned to the viewer, this woman is doing here work and doesn’t want to be disturbed. There is a truly calming effect attached to this painting. Vendedora de flores en Xochimilco from 1929 was sold in 2006 at the Coeur D’alene Hayden in Hayden, US. The selling price was $1,100,000, although the highest estimated price was a little bit higher - $1,200,000.

To find out more click here.

Featured image: Diego Rivera - Vendedora de flores en Xochimilco, 1929 - Image via

Paisaje de Toledo, 1913

One of Rivera’s landscapes also had found its way to art collectors out there. His early-career painting showing the lands of the Spanish town Toledo first was sold at Christie’s New York in 1992, for the price of $1,100,000, the same it had been estimated for. However, its value fell over the years, so in 2013, the same painting was sold at Sotheby’s New York for almost half of the previous price - $512,000.

Take a look here for more information on the Paisaje de Toledo.

Featured image: Diego Rivera - Paisaje de Toledo, 1913 - Image via

Naturaleza muerta, flores, escudilla de fruta, libro, tarro, 1918

The full name of this art piece is Naturaleza muerta con flores, escudilla de fruta libro y tarro de Jengibre, although it is referred to with a shorter name too. The technique for this painting is oil on canvas laid on canvas, and it is signed, dated, and inscribed. Something very interesting happened with the painting. At first, it was sold in Paris at the Laurin Guilloux Buffetaud Tailleur for the price of $69,500. It was in 1991. Only four years later, its value leaped off for an almost 20 times higher price. In another word, the first price of $69,500 was only 5% of the later one. In 1995, Rivera’s painting Naturaleza muerta, flores, escudilla de fruta, libro, tarro was sold at Christie’s New York for $1,350,000.

For more auction data go here.

Featured image: Diego Rivera - Naturaleza muerta con flores, escudilla de fruta libro y tarro de Jengibre - Image via

La Ofrenda, 1931

This oil on canvas by Diego Rivera has an impressive exhibition history and the provenance. From Frances Flynn Paine in New York it was acquired by Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1931, and then given to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1936, as a gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. Later on, the painting La Ofrenda was in Lanyon Gallery in Palo Alto in 1963, it was on sale in Sotheby's New York in 1984, and finally it was acquired by the present owner in 2005. In the meantime, it was exhibited within the MoMA’a retrospective exhibition of Diego Rivera’s work in 1931, and also in Philadelphia Museum of Art, the City Art Museum in St. Louis, and the Museum of Art in Providence, to name a few. In 2005 it was sold at Sotheby’s New York for a price of $1,584,000. That was a little bit lower than the $2,000,000 which was the highest estimate.

More auction details you can find here.

Featured image: Diego Rivera - La Ofrenda, 1931 - Image via

Vendedora de Flores, 1942

A flower seller is one of the motives that Diego Rivera painted the most. And here it is again – one more time, one of his Vendedora de Flores paintings has found its place among the Rivera’s most expensive paintings sold at auctions. Particularly this one, Vendedora de Flores from 1942, was sold at the auction at Christie’s New York in 1991. The selling price was $2,781,400, exactly the same as it was previously estimated.

For more auction info look here.

Featured image: Diego Rivera - Vendedora de Flores, 1942 - Image via

Baile en Tehuantepec, 1928

The signed and dated oil on canvas entitled Baile en Tehuantepec, painted by Diego Rivera in 1928, is the artwork of this Mexican painter that was sold for the highest price among all of his artworks. The painting shows dancing men and women in a festive atmosphere of the Mexican town Tehuantepec. Final price of the painting sold in 1995 at Sotheby's New York was $2,800,000, and the estimated prices ranged from $3,000,000 to 4,000,000. Although it was sold for the price below the estimated ones, it is still the most expensively sold Rivera’s art piece at the moment.

More auction data you can find here.

Featured image: Diego Rivera - Baile en Tehuantepec, 1928 - Image via

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