“Still Life and Blossoming Almond Trees” by Diego Rivera

Posted on : February 14th, 2019

Still Life and Blossoming Almond Trees

“Still Life and Blossoming Almond Trees” by Diego Rivera. Photograph used courtesy of Joaquín Martínez via Creative Commons licensing.

It is not unusual to find beautiful paintings and photographs of almond trees in blossom. Revered artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Pierre Bonnard have been captivated by the beauty of bloom season as have lesser known artists wherever almond trees can be found. What is far less usual, however, is to find a painting that celebrates the people who work in the orchards as well as those enjoying the fruits of their labors. “Still Life and Blossoming Almond Trees” by the great Mexican painter Diego Rivera is the only modern painting I know that does!

In the early 1930s, Diego Rivera and his equally famous wife Frida Kahlo toured the San Francisco Bay Area on a working honeymoon of sorts. They saw the almond trees in bloom in the Sacramento Valley, were feted by wealthy patrons, and produced four murals, several paintings and sketches. You can see many of them at SFMOMA and the de Young Museum.

“Still Life and Blossoming Almond Trees” currently resides in Stern Hall, a women’s dormitory at UC Berkeley. However, it was originally painted as a  fresco inside the private home of San Francisco civic and social leader Rosalie Meyer Stern who commissioned the work. The children shown in the foreground are Stern’s grandchildren Rhoda and Peter and Rhoda’s imaginary friend Dega. Their older brother Walter is shown working in the orchard on the lefthand side.

This is a smaller piece than many of Rivera’s murals because it was designed for a house but it does contain many of the themes Rivera was famous for. In particular, his work during this trip celebrated the labor of working people combined with the promise of modern technology, in this case in the form of a tractor. He felt that the large format of murals and the fact that they are usually designed to be accessible to the public helped bring art and the themes of history and progress to the common people.

Honoring the people who provide food for our tables was one of Diego Rivera’s ideals but in this piece he is also celebrating family. That makes it of special interest to me because Maisie Jane’s family has been growing almonds for four generations. I don’t know if Diego Rivera knew that most almond growers are family farmers. But it’s quite wonderful to know that there is a painting that hints at it.

Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products, Inc. was founded on strong beliefs and passion for offering unique, flavorful, top-quality, nut products. We strongly believe in earth-friendly practices that start on our family owned and operated orchards. We use Organic farming practices and continue in the process by using all-natural ingredients with no preservatives or GMOs. We believe in honest, friendly and helpful customer relations at all levels. We take pride in every task, every day, with every person.