‘Portrait of Dona Rosita Morillo’ by Frida Kahlo is one of the celebrated works of 1944. It was painted primarily in oils on canvas and measures 75.5cm by 59.5cm. Currently, it resides in the permanent collection of the Museo Dolores Olmedo, Mexico City. The painting depicts a portrait of Doña Rosita Morillo seated in a chair, wearing an aqua blouse with an orange shawl draped over her shoulders, and carrying a bag with yellow embroidery detail and bright red flowers at her feet.
The theme explored by Kahlo in this piece is further deepened by her use of colour and texture. Kahlo used cool tones to give this painting a calming effect that evokes peace and serenity, while her use of vivid colours – particularly in the embroidery details – helps create more movement and energy within the painting. Additionally, she uses brush strokes to animate her subject’s features, giving them added expression that strengthens the overall message.
Many viewers are delighted when they discover this masterful portrait within Museo Dolores Olmedo’s collection. They are first captivated by its mastery but soon understand why Frida Kahlo continues to be one of the most celebrated painters in modern art history: it’s through compelling works such as ‘Portrait of Dona Rosita Morillo’ that we come to understand why Kahlo’s works still resonate today – both thematically and aesthetically speaking.