This 100 x 114,6 cm oil on canvas, painted in 1904 and being nowadays at the Diego Rivera Museum in Guanajuato (Mexico), is one of the most representative works of the initial landscape stage of the great Mexican painter, which would later reach a bigger celebrity, thanks to his monumental murals, with which he fulfilled an innovative fusion of the European modernism with the indigenous traditions of the pre-Columbian past, it all within the frame of an artistic output with a strong content and social demands.

In this case, Diego Rivera, being only 18 years old, still in formative artistic phase, reveals himself as a remarkable landscape painter, showing the influence of his first teacher José María Velasco (an outstanding Mexican landscape painter, who unveiled him the secrets of perspective).

With his work ´La Era´, Diego Rivera tries to reproduce the chromatism of a typical Mexican landscape, by using the light as a vital epicentre in the general conception of it, and one can observe a team of horses on the wide plain stretching up to the foothill of Popocatepetl volcano, near Mexico City, along with cultivated fields also in the background and a ranch in the foreground.

But the main character is the self-sacrificing Mexican peasant, with the tools on his shoulders (being about to work), who together with the two draught horses and their shadows, sets up a vital triangle saturated with the sun, witness of an everyday and fleeting instant in time, while another
peasant in the background opens the ranch door, projecting a very elongated shadow. ´La Era´ implies an unmistakable evidence of the mastery and versatility of Diego Rivera regarding different techniques and pictorial styles (some examples will suffice of so different works as ´Zapatist Landscape- The Guerrilla Man- of cubist style (1915); ´Head of a Breton Woman´ in XVII century Flemish portrait style (1910); the big mural ´Allegory of California´ (1931); ´Festival of the Flowers´(1925); crepuscular chromatic experiments as ´Late afternoon in Acapulco´(1956), ´Portrait of Natasha Zakölkowa Gelman´(1943), etc, among which landscapes paintings are also included.

Likewise, ´La Era´ is important because it implies Diego Rivera´s incursion within the Impressionism, that had been in vogue in Europe since 1874 (with renowned figures as E. Manet, Sisley, Pizarro, Degás, Renoir, Cezanne, Morisot and Claude Monet).

The great Mexican painter was fascinated by the definitive breaking that the Impressionism had entailed concerning the previous pictorial trends and their strict rules of perspective, chiaroscuro and composition, introducing a new way of seeing based on the ´optical sensation´, doing away with the dark colours in favour of clear and luminous hues, applied on the canvas with short brush strokes and using pairs of contrasty colours (complementary ones), the so-called optical mixture.

© Copyright José Manuel Serrano Esparza