Ironically, she remarried Rivera later that year and Muray purchased the painting to assist Kahlo's financial situation.
Kahlo painted fifty-five self portraits and though many saw her as a surrealist, Kahlo commented that she painted "reality" and the subject she knew best - herself.
Painting was also a coping mechanism during difficult times and in this fascinating portrait she portrays her feelings using both Christian and Aztec symbology.
The painting is beautifully balanced, Kahlo's face is the focal point of the image. Though her eyes do not directly engage with the viewer, they are slightly downcast and appear sad, forcing the viewer to consider her private thoughts and feelings.
On her right shoulder sits a unlucky black cat, on her left shoulder is a monkey, possibly one of her pets, a gift from Rivera.
The monkey, often a symbol of the devil, tugs at the thorn necklace around her neck, drawing blood. The thorn necklace reflects the pain and suffering she feels and its use in this image has been compared to the crown of thorns worn by Christ.
Butterflies appear in her hair as symbols of resurrection too. The addition of the lifeless hummingbird dangling from her neck is of interest, as hummingbirds are often used to symbolize the Aztec god of War known as "Huitzilopochtli".
The shape of the hummingbird also mirrors the monobrow which Kahlo appears to have emphasized, along with the semblance of a moustache above her mouth. This was probably a deliberate feminist statement.
The background of the picture is filled with Mexican flora and fauna and provides a contrast with the more open, blank foreground.
The original painting is now housed at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin. It is an extremely popular and important piece which has been lent to many other museums under strict criteria. When it travels, the painting has its own seat and personal courier.
Kahlo's Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird is a wonderful image of a talented painter and her innermost thoughts.