Self-Portrait Inside a Sunflower

This work, Frida Kahlo’s last self-portrait, was painted while the artist was bedridden and in intense pain, having suffered through numerous spinal surgeries and a leg amputation. Despite her rapidly failing health, Kahlo insisted that she continue to paint. In her heavily medicated state she abandoned her former meticulousness, but these later works which are rendered in a loose style still exhibit Kahlo’s dexterity and her sophisticated use of color.  “Self-Portrait Inside a Sunflower” evinces the same vibrant energy and emotional intensity that characterize Kahlo’s earlier self-portraits. The symbolic composition and the burning colors of the setting sun, the wilting sunflower, and the blood red skirt are striking. According to art historian Raquel Tibol, Kahlo began to imagine herself suffocated by the sunflower before the painting was completely dry, and attempted to scrape it off her painted image with a palette knife.  Fortunately, the painting was rescued by an employee.

Diego Rivera with Frida Kahlo’s last three paintings