Study for Allegory of California, San Francisco Stock Exchange

Acquired from the artist
Raul Kamffer Cardoso, Mexico
Private collection, California

These preliminary studies are two of eleven that Rivera made for his mural Allegory of California at the San Francisco Stock Exchange Luncheon Club. Rivera’s initial concept for the fresco was to represent California and its rich natural and human resources. The principal figure in the fresco, a young, healthy woman symbolizing the state, embraces the products of California’s indu-

stries, as well as the workers and adventurers that have contributed to their progress. We see miners extracting coal, James Wilson Marshall and another prospector searching for gold, Luther Burbank examining the diverse plant life, a young boy holding an airplane as a symbol for the fledgling Bay Area aviation industry, and an engineer and scientist examining work tools under the oil fields.
These two studies show how Rivera transformed his initial idea into the final version. All the main elements of the fresco are present in the earlier sketch, in which California is represented by a seated female nude. Rivera unified the composition in the later drawing by eliminating the nude, replacing the large, looming worker with the strong and confident young woman (tennis champion Helen Wills was the model) as Allegory of California. This study is almost identical to the final sketch now in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, from which Rivera worked closely when painting the actual mural.