Kahlo is depicted here painting Self-Portrait as Tehuana, also known as Diego on My Mind. She began the painting in 1940 but didn’t complete it until 1943. Her husband, Diego Rivera, stands behind her chair, watching her work. In the finished painting, there is a bust-length portrait of Rivera on Kahlo’s forehead—if the finished version appeared here, the painted Rivera would return the gaze of the man observing Kahlo’s work.
This photograph shows the reverse of how the scene would have appeared. When Silberstein took the picture, the painting was on the left hand side of the frame, and Kahlo painted with her right hand. In an article published in the September 1950 issue of Popular Photography, Silberstein writes, “For many years I have found it an excellent practice to examine all pictorial negatives reversed—as well as straight—even though I don’t always print them that way.”