Frida’s longing for her mother’s embrace was transformed into an intense desire for feeling close to the people, plants, animals, and objects that were near her.One of the most moving expressions of Frida’s need for affection is seen in the Portrait of Doña Rosita Morillo Safa, whose subject is the mother of the most important collector of Frida’s work during her own lifetime. The painting has a refined realism, which Frida mastered in the course of the 1940s. It depicts the wise and goodly grandmother with such detail that we feel we could reach out and touch her. The artist had lavished special care on the subject’s surroundings: the plants in the background and the cactus (with each spike exactly rendered). Even the hairs escaping from Doña Rosita’s braid are precisely captured. Although her subject is an elderly woman, Frida emphasizes the sense of physical strength through the rendering of the hands, firmly grasping the knitting needles.


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