Before returning to Mexico in 1921, Rivera made a trip to Italy, traveling to Milan, Florence, Siena, Arezzo, Perugia, Assisi, Rome, Venice, Naples, Sicily, Ravena, Padua, Verona and Orvieto, following an itinerary outlined in Faure’s, History of Art. (Patrick Marnham, pp. 148-9) He made hundreds of sketches, mostly of monuments, frescoes and works in Italian Museums. At least 150 of these sketches survive. Luis-Martin Lozano writes, “It appears that Rivera had a specific mission to accomplish, and everything indicates that he was preparing himself to participate in the great Mexican post-revolutionary cultural project, imagined by José Vasconcelos, the future Minister of Public Education. This cultural climate of a true Mexican Renaissance needed great mural art to educate the new public emerged from the ashes of Revolution…Because of this, Rivera’s trip to Italy was maybe an initiation rite and could even have been a requirement demanded by Vasconcelos, so that he could include Diego Rivera among the muralists that Mexico needed…One could say that Rivera went to Italy to learn about the origin of public art, that would serve as a model and inspiration when he returned to Mexico to paint murals.” (v.i., pp. 151-52)

Private collection, New York

Diego Rivera. Art and Revolution, exhibition catalogue, Mexico, INBA; 1999, illus. p. 149