The watercolour piece captures a hard working rural figure leaning over as he carries a large basket of cabbage on his back. Rivera would frequently focus on the lives of the working poor and wanted to educate others on their plight. Being a committed socialist at heart, he would always side in debates with those that he felt were unfairly treated or who led honest lives for little reward. Indeed, the artist would also produce artworks elsewhere in his career which directly connected with socialist themes, including portraits of major Communist figures from the past and present. One of his wives, Frida Kahlo, shared much the same political beliefs and they would include many of these values within their work, whilst continuing to share friendships and connections with capitalists who had the wealth necessary to promote their caeers. It was a strange situation in some senses, but both artist never lost their connection to the Mexican poor, whoever they may have spent time in the company of whilst abroad.
The posture of this individual with Cabbage Seller is likely to have placed him within this scene whilst walking through a local market. He would have been selling his products whilst creeping through the streets, reaching into his basket to replenish each time he managed to sell some of his goods. The posture he holds, with his head bowed and a hat covering his face gives the instant atmosphere of one of difficulty and struggle, though many of these people would simply not have known any different from the lives that they led, as so may not have been quite as unhappy as this watercolour painting might suggest. For similar examples along the same theme, see also Peasants, The Grinder (Woman Grinding Maize) and Flower Festival.
The important museum in which this artwork resides holds a number of works from famous Mexican artists, with Frida Kahlo being one particular highlight here. Interest in art from this nation has risen considerably in recent years and whilst Frida's work has been well known internationally for many years, as has that of her husband Diego, people are now starting to look more deeply into the artistic achievements of this nation. Mexico is rich in culture and has so much more to enjoy than just the few names that are famous around the world, and hopefully institutions such as Museo Dolores Olmedo can help to broaden people's knowledge little by little. Visitors to the gallery will be able to spot some particularly well known artworks such as Self-portrait with Broad-Brimmed Hat and The Rural Schoolteacher (drawing) by Diego Rivera and also Henry Ford Hospital and The Broken Column by Frida Kahlo.