Diego Rivera was still married to his second wife, Guadalupe (Lupe) Marin when he met Frida Kahlo in 1928. Diego and Kahlo married on August 21, 1929, divorced in 1939, and then remarried in San Francisco on December 8, 1940.
According to Emmy Lou Packard, Kahlo left this note for Rivera in the studio on Treasure Island. She was leaving for New York, where she was involved with a trial having to do with Lupe Marín, Diego’s second wife.
This note was written while they were briefly divorced, between 1939 and late 1940.
When Dr. Leo Eloesser (a surgeon) admitted Kahlo to St. Luke’s Hospital for “rest” in September 1940, she placed her valuables (a watch and jewelry) in this envelope. We don’t know if the valuables were still in the envelope when she left it for Diego, or she simply used the empty envelope to write a note.
Translation: "Diego my love- Remember that once you finish the fresco we will be together forever once and for all, without arguments or anything, only to love one another. Behave yourself and do everything that Emmy Lou tells you. I adore you more than ever. Your girl, Frida (Write me)."
Despite the success of her exhibition, Kahlo remained unimpressed by the Parisian artistic elite. Adding to Kahlo's frustration with Paris, the menace of an impending war in Europe was suppressing the buying practices of otherwise generous collectors, forcing her to cancel an exhibition in London.
"... I decided that the same thing would be in London. So I am not going to make any exhibit in London. People in general are scared to death of the war and all the exhibition have been a failure, because the rich - don't want to buy anything".
This letter to Packard was written from New York City where Frida was arranging a second exhibition with New York art dealer, Julien Levy. While working with Packard in San Francisco in 1940, Rivera developed difficulties with his vision and required medical attention. In the letter, Frida expresses her concern over her husband's health and asks Packard to sincerely tell her if his condition is grave enough that she should leave New York for San Francisco immediately.
"Emmy Lou my darling, Please forgive for writing you in pencil – can't find any fountain pen or ink in this house. I am terribly worried about Diego's eyes. Please tell me the exact truth about it. If he is not feeling better I will scram from here at once. Some doctor here told me that the sulphamilamid sometimes is dangerous. Please darling ask Dr. Eloesser about it. Tell him all the symptoms Diego has after taking the pills. He will know because he knows about Diego's condition in general. I am so happy he is near you. I can't tell you how much I love you for being so good to him and being so kind to me."
Frida also offers a reply to Packard regarding one of her drawings and an exhibition at the Julien Levy gallery.
"Darling, Julien Levy liked very much your drawing but he can't give you an exhibition because he says he only shows Surrealist paintings. I will talk to Pierre Mathisse [Matisse] and I am sure I can arrange something here for you next year. I still like the first one you made of me better that the others".
Kahlo refers to Pierre Matisse, the younger son of the French artist Henri Matisse, who opened a gallery in New York in 1931, dealing in European modern and contemporary artists, such as Balthus, Marc Chagall, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Georges Rouault, and Yves Tanguy. Although Emmy Lou Packard did not exhibit at the Henri Matisse Gallery she secured an exhibition in 1941 at the Stendahl Gallery in Los Angeles.
Also found in Chester Dale's papers is a photograph taken in the San Francisco studio of sculptor Ralph Stackpole (1885-1973), who Rivera had known in Paris. Stackpole, along with, William Gerstle, president of the San Francisco Art Commission, helped Rivera secure mural commissions in San Francisco in 1930.
In this illustrated letter to friends Clara and Gerry Strang, Kahlo playfully refers to herself as "The Queen" and to Diego as "The King". The following coquettish lines from Kahlo's letter may refer to Weatherwax's short story which Kahlo may have been waiting for Weatherwax to complete.
"Please tell him that my decision is that when I be in San Francisco again (probably in January) He will have no beard anymore [she was told John Weatherwax had grown a beard] And if he disobey my decision he will be put in jail immediately. He must be afraid because I am very cruel Queen. Please tell him I am waiting for my "History", and I hope that will be finished before I change my kingdom from here!"
She signs the letter, "Queen Freida The first"
Kahlo's German father, Guillermo Kahlo named his daughter "Frieda", German for "Peace". Around 1935, during the rise of Nazism, she dropped the e in spelling of her name.
This online exhibit highlighting the life, art and relationships of Frida Kahlo was organized by the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art.
Founded in 1954, the Archives of American Art fosters advanced research through the accumulation and dissemination of primary sources, unequaled in historical depth and breadth, that document more than two hundred years of our nation’s artists and art communities. The Archives provides access to these materials through its exhibitions and publications, including the Archives of American Art Journal, the longest-running scholarly journal in the field of American art. An international leader in the digitizing of archival collections, the Archives also makes nearly 2.5 million digital images freely available online. The Archives’ oral history collection includes more than 2,300 audio interviews, the largest accumulation of in-depth, first-person accounts of the American art world.
For more information, visit the Archives' website at www.aaa.si.edu