Kahlo had hoped the operation would relieve some of the back pain she suffered following an accident she experienced much earlier in her life. The surgery did little to help her and this painting is possibly a reflection of the disappointment she was feeling at the time.
Throughout her life Kahlo battled with physical difficulties as well as bouts of severe depression. Her paintings, especially in her latter years, have strong themes of pain and suffering as exhibited in this work.
Kahlo's style displays both Mexican and European influences which most likely stem from her German father and Mexican mother. The painting also hints towards her interest in Eastern religions and mysticism which she became interested in towards the end of her life.
The deer in the work is most likely modelled on Kahlo's pet deer, Granizo. She owned many animals as pets which she regarded fondly as surrogates as she was unable to have children of her own following her accident at just eighteen years old.
In May, 1946, Kahlo gave the painting as a wedding gift to her close friends Linda and Arcady Boitler.
With it she included a note to the couple which she had written by hand on a napkin that said: "I leave you my portrait to remember me all the days and nights since I left you. The sadness is portrayed throughout all of my paintings, but that’s how my condition is, it cannot be fixed."
The painting may be interpreted in many ways and there are many varying views on what Kahlo was conveying. As well as it being put forward that it expresses her pain and frustration at the failed surgery, others suggest it demonstrates her inability to control her own destiny.