Flower Carrier by Diego Rivera – An In-depth Analysis

flower carrier painting by Diego rivera

The combination of sharp lines placed tastefully around soft corners and an image that depicts a scene that strikes confusion in the viewer’s eyes; the “Flower Carrier” has everything needed to make it an eye-catching painting.

Flower Carrier centers around the life of the Mexican poor, a theme that Rivera was close to throughout his career. Flowers are a significant part of Mexican life. They not only reflect the vibrancy of the people but are also a source of inspiration for the artist.

Rivera’s 1935 painting “Cargador de Flores” features a large statement basket of flowers occupying center stage in pink, purple and yellow tones. But what are the reasons why this painting intrigues everyone? Let’s get to know the painting in detail first.

Mexican Post-Revolution

The Mexican Revolution occurred between 1910 and 1920 which led to the removal of Porfirio Diaz as the president. During his time, the lower-class Mexicans suffered great injustices where they were forced to give up their lands. New American businesses were permitted to capitalize on the rich indigenous resources at the expense of the resident’s well-being.

The Flower Carrier was painted in the 1930s after the revolution where he shares with us his affection for the less fortunate vendors of Mexico. Through the painting, Rivera helps us to identify with the struggles of the common man, just as he does himself.

The Composition of the Painting

Flower carrier painting details
Details in “Flower Carrier” (1935) by Diego Rivera

The colorful painting displays a peasant man in white clothing with a yellow sombrero, with a thousand flowers on his back arranged neatly in a basket. The basket has been tied to his back with a yellow cloth that has been tied in a large bow-knot under his chin.

The woman behind him appears much larger than the man as she helps adjust the basket and lift him back up. A lush green hedgerow provides a dark yet vibrant background against the striking brightness of the foreground. While the viewer is mesmerized by the beauty of the flowers, the poor man is burdened with the monetary value of the flowers.

Through his bright color palette, Rivera evokes the essence of Van Gogh’s art in his work. The colors of the painting not only captivate us but also throw light on the important subjects in the frame. The geometric designs provide striking contrasts, where each element conveys individualism. Art analysts suggest that the oversized basket slung to the man’s back represents the burdens of an unskilled, poor worker in a capitalistic environment.

At first appearance, one would be perplexed as to how these fragile blossoms could force a man out of balance. The artist’s exaggerated elements such as the large bucket, and the strikingly bright colors make it clear that the man is carrying a psychological burden, not a bunch of flowers.

Analysis of the Painting

flower carrier painting by Diego rivera
Flower Carrier (1935) by Diego Rivera. © Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Fair Use.

The Flower Carrier is a colorful rendering of the common man’s simplicity, overflowing with symbolic meaning.

The basket has been deliberately enlarged to showcase the weight of emotions that the artist wishes to convey. The carrier is an anonymous subject, which makes him more relatable to the average man or even the wider community. Rivera wants us to see how every poor man is slowly getting crushed under the weight of capitalism.

The flower carrier’s exaggerated position as he leans over, holding himself up with the help of his large hands, visually symbolizes the struggles of the less fortunate. The posture also shows a desperate attempt to rise up, an allusion to their arduous hours of work just to earn enough for the day. His hands have also been enlarged, somewhat out of proportion reflecting the strength gained through hard work.

The lady is a symbol of unity and a strong community spirit among the masses. While people expect help from the government and the upper-class communities, they only seem to have one another. It is important to note the difference in the sizes of the man and the woman. The woman looks disproportionately larger, perhaps hinting toward the importance of women in the working class.

While it seems like the artist has romanticized their struggle with bright colors and native clothing, his aim is to reveal how looks can be deceiving. The beautiful foliage and native people in regional clothing are only a pleasing representative of the encumbrances of an untrained worker.


Even with his rising fame, Rivera was always a socialist and was in touch with the struggles of the common man. Rivera went on to join the Mexican communist party and never lost touch with the poor even when he was traveling abroad. The artist revisited the same theme in some later paintings such as “Nude with Calla Lilies” and “Flower Vendor”.

Rivera stresses the ideal rather than the individual with distinct qualities. The carrier represents a wider cause of ordinary people. The artist’s purpose is to elevate their status by restoring their pride and self-worth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the flower carrier represent?

The Flower Carrier embodies all of the injustices of capitalistic and contemporary society not only in Mexico but around the world. Beautiful flowers don’t really strike us as being a symbol of struggle, yet they’re stifling simply because of their fragility and attractive superficiality. The painting imparts simplicity yet exudes much symbolism about the difficulties of the common people in a capitalistic world.

Where is the flower carrier now?

“The Flower Carrier” is one of Diego Rivera’s most celebrated works. The painting is presently exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco, United States.

What style of art is the flower carrier?

The Flower carrier has been painted on a virtually square canvas measuring 121.9 cm by 121.3 cm. Rivera’s medium of choice was oil and tempera on masonite. The vibrant colors are rubbed into the masonite, a most common method for painting on hard surfaces.

What was the Original Spanish Title of this Painting?

This painting is called “Cargador de Flores” in Spanish, which means “flower vendor”. The artwork is one of the best known pieces of the artist’s oeuvre and represents Rivera’s anti-capitalist opinions.

Location and Ownership of The Flower Carrier (Cargador de Flores)

The Flower Carrier (Cargador de Flores) is a painting by Mexican artist Diego Rivera. It was painted in 1935 and is currently owned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). The painting depicts a worker carrying flowers, with a vibrant and colorful composition. The tone of the artwork is cheerful and optimistic, reflecting Kahlo’s own outlook on life.

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