The Flower Seller

by Diego Rivera (1942)

Diego Rivera was a Mexican painter who championed the causes of Mexico’s common people, peasants, and native underclass.  Many of his paintings celebrate these groups and elevate them in art to a higher status than they held in the real world.

Rivera painted several versions of flower sellers, vendors and carriers.  All of these scenes represent the indigenous people of Mexico, but in a broadly generic or symbolic way.  The human figures are practically anonymous, with their heads bowed or turned away from the viewer.  The bodies and clothing are simplified in shape and filled in with flat areas of color.  These things remove any specific individuality, leaving the humble, poor worker.  The flowers represent wealth or luxury, and these images symbolize how hard the poor laborers must work for the wealthy people’s luxury.

Proverbs 31:10-12, 20-29

10 A capable wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
20 She opens her hand to the poor,
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
for all her household are clothed in crimson.
22 She makes herself coverings;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she supplies the merchant with sashes.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her happy;
her husband too, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”

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