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María Izquierdo

A work made of oil on canvas.
© Tamayo Heirs / Mexico / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Rufino Tamayo (Mexican, 1899–1991)

About this artwork

Rufino Tamayo’s portrait of the celebrated painter María Izquierdo presents her with eyes closed, as a plume of cigarette smoke wafts upward. A transparent fish outlined in red appears behind her, almost as if emanating from her mind, projecting a sense of the unreal or the fantastic. Tamayo’s portrayal likely references the imaginative quality of Izquierdo’s own work. In 1932 she began creating allegorical compositions that moved beyond the direct representation of nature into a more poetic realm. By depicting her in a dreamlike manner in his portrait, Tamayo acknowledged the significance of invention in her artistic practice.

The limited and contrasting palette that Tamayo employed emphasizes Izquierdo’s mestiza identity (of both Indigenous and European descent)—and possibly, by extension, Tamayo’s own Zapotec heritage.


On View, Gallery 262


Arts of the Americas


Rufino Tamayo


María Izquierdo


Mexico (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


Signed, lower right, in white pigment: Tamayo / 32


74.8 × 64.8 cm (29 7/16 × 25 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Frances A. Elkins

Reference Number



© Tamayo Heirs / Mexico / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Extended information about this artwork

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