La Venadita (Little Deer) / The Wounded Deer1946 by Frida Kahlo

In this painting of a young stag mortally wounded by arrows, Frida expresses the disappointment which followed the operation on her spine in New York in 1946, and which she had optimistically hoped would cure her of her back pain.

Back in Mexico, however, she continued to suffer both physical pain and deep depression. In this painting, Frida presents herself with the body of a young stag and her own head crowned with antlers. Pierced by arrows and bleeding, the deer stares out at the viewer from a forest enclosure. Although the stormy, lightning-lit sky in the distance is a brightening hope for escape, but the deer will never reach it. One meaning of the word "Carma", which appears in the painting's lower-left corner, is "destiny" or "fate". In this painting, as in most of Frida's self portraits, she presents herself as incapable of changing her own destiny.

Frida used her own pet deer, Granizo, as a model for this painting. The deer in the painting is surrounded by trees and trapped, transmitting a feeling of fear and desperation, with no way to escape from the situation.

The true meaning of this painting is open to many interpretations. Some say this painting portrays Frida's inability to change her own destiny, or, Frida's frustration over the failed surgery, or a surreal painting of Frida enraged in the battle of the sexes.

On May 3, 1946, Frida gave this painting to her friends Lina and Arcady Boytler as a wedding gift. With it she included a hand written personal note written 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”. On the other side of the napkin she wrote: “The deer walked alone, sad and very hurt, until he found in Arcady and Lina the warmth and a nest”.
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Click to select the cover image for this artwork.
Dimensions (h/w/d): 8 11 (20 28)
Location: Collection of Carolyn Farb , Houston, Texas