In December of 1886 in Guanajuato, a silver-mining town in central Mexico, twins, Diego Maria Rivera and Carlos Maria Rivera were born on the eighth of December. Two years later Carlos died and in 1891 a sister was Maria was born. The family moved to Mexico City in 1893. Both of Diego Rivera’s parents were school teachers. By the age of two, Diego was already drawing and his father set up a studio for him before he could even read. At age ten Diego Rivera decided to become an artist and by the age of eleven he began to attend evening courses at the National School of Art, the Academy of San Carlos, in Mexico City. At his father’s request, Diego enrolled in the Military College. This lasted two weeks. Afterwards, he attended San Carlos as a full-time student. There his teachers included many famous 19th century Mexican artists. However, Diego said he learned about the art of his own country from a teacher he found himself, Jose Posada. Posada owned a small printing shop near the academy and Diego often stopped to watch Jose Posada working on his drawings and prints. Diego thought these drawings were so full of life and energy that they might jump off the page at any moment. (1)
In 1902 Diego Rivera was unhappy with the new art director at the San Carlos academy. Because of this he decided to leave the school where he had been a student for six years. Sixteen year old Diego ventured into the Mexican countryside to seek his artistic fortune. He painted houses, streets, churches, Indians, volcanoes, all of which was part of the unique beauty of Mexico. For a while he was happy painting the Mexican landscape. People began to acclaim him as an artist in his own right. But although he wanted to believe them , Diego was not content. He became restless and dissatisfied with his work. He felt that there was more to being a painter than he had so far mastered. He knew that in Europe there were great painters and the work of the old masters from whom he could learn. Rivera thought that perhaps he could raise money for his passage by selling his paintings but he knew he would still need money to support himself.
Diego’s father was at that time an inspector in the National Department of Public Health, a job that took him to many parts of Mexico. On one of his trips to the state of Vera Cruz, he showed the governor, Teodoro Dehesa, some of his son’s paintings. The governor was very impressed and when he met with Diego, he offered him a scholarship to study in Europe. He told Diego that he was sure that he would be an honor to his country. Diego hastily arranged an exhibit of his work in Mexico city and sold all fifteen of his paintings, enough for a passage to Europe. (2)