Pancho Villa and Adelita

The painting that is now mistakenly known as "Pancho Villa and Adelita" remains one of her least understood works.

Pancho Villa y la Adelita (ca. 1927) by Frida KahloInstituto Tlaxcalteca de la Cultura

It is unfinished (besides the vague lower section, it has no signature) and there is evidence that Kahlo repainted the central self-portrait years later. Perhaps frustrated by its unconventional composition, she set it aside, incomplete, rather than destroying or finishing it.

Although the central image at the top of the painting depicts the revolutionary leader, Pancho Villa, it is not so prominent as to make him the subject.

Instead, Frida takes center stage. Kahlo does not, however, portray herself as "Adelita," the female soldier who was the subject of several "Villista" ballads. Her fashionable, elegant dress bears no relation to the simple shirts, blouses, bandoliers, and military hats worn in photographs by female soldiers of the time.

Some of them can be seen in the top left corner on one of the trains that transported troops, but they are incidental figures in the painting.

There are 3 figures in the unfinished lower section of the painting: Kahlo in the center, an unidentified man sitting at the far end of the table, and another faceless man sitting on a wooden bench on the right-hand side.

It is likely that the second man was Ángel Salas, with his distinctive bald head, sitting at the piano.

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