The original painting was one of a handful of pieces that were restored in 2009 along with the renovation of Casa Azul itself. Frida Kahlo's Portrait of Marta Patricia Procel is not a well-known piece of her art and little is documented about the work. There is nothing on record of the sitter, but Kahlo had many visitors to her Blue House during the years she spent confined there, and she painted other portraits of friends and family. This portrait was painted in 1951 just 3 years before Kahlo’s death. During the final years of her life, Kahlo was in constant pain and remained mostly inside her home. There is no sign of the agony suffered in this painting, in fact it looks a calm and still image.
The Portrait of Marta Patricia Procel was painted using a very limited palate of colours – muddied browns, yellow and a small amount of dark red were used with a large area of white left unpainted at the centre. The painting seems unfinished, especially the hands and the background. Kahlo also left Portrait of Frida’s Family unfinished too, a piece she abandoned in 1950. Details can be seen around the face and hair of the young sitter in the painting. The hair is brushed back from the face and tied with a large ribbon. Interestingly there is a photo of Kahlo aged 11 years old in existence that shows her hair and ribbon styled in exactly the same way as the painting. It is possible that there be an element of self-portraiture in this painting – Kahlo created many self portraits during her lifetime.
In the hands of Marta in the painting is a round, red object that immediately draws the eye. This could be an apple, or a symbol of a heart. The heart is used in other paintings by Frida, such as in The Two Fridas. Kahlo's paintings were usually delicately painted but during her final years, her style changed in appearance. The brushstrokes seemed more hurried and free flowing. The Portrait of Marta Patricia Procel looks like it could have been completed at speed with sweeping strokes of the brush.