Frida portrays herself as tiny and insubstantial beside her large and solidly planted husband brandishing a palette. This reflects not only the real physical disparity between them, but a self-portrayal as a wife in a great artist's shadow.

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was a Mexican artist born in Coyoacan, outside Mexico City.

With her father's encouragement, Frida grew into an able and ambitious student, attending the elite National Preparatory School with the intention of going on to study medicine.

At this stage, Frida enjoyed art only as a hobby. She studied drawing with her father's friend, the print-maker Fernando Fernandez, to whom she became apprenticed as an engraver in 1925, doing this work alongside her studies.

In September 1925 Frida Kahlo suffered the terrible accident which altered the course of her life; her school bus collided with a streetcar.

Suffering numerous broken bones and other injuries,Frida spent time in hospital and was confined to bed for months after. The lifelong impact on her health was such that Frida had to give up her ambition of becoming a doctor.

As she convalesced at home, Frida began painting in earnest, mostly self-portraits and portraits of her sisters and friends.

Her illness now made her consider art as a career as well as prompting an existential quest that was to inform her work. Her early paintings showed the influence both of Renaissance art and avant garde art movements such as Cubism.

By late 1927, Frida was able once again to socialise with her friends, who were now at university. She joined the Mexican Communist Party which gave her entree to a social circle of artists and activists.

In 1928, Frida met 42 year old Diego Rivera, famous artist and prominent communist. He confirmed Frida's talent as an artist. The following year, the two of them were married. The couple moved to the city of Cuernavaca. Here, Frida began to be influenced by traditional Mexican culture both in her art and in her dress.