The Watermelons is Diego Rivera's last painting. The vividly colored Watermelons has an almost lifelike texture, achieved by the mixture of a bit of sand with the oil paint.
Although Diego Rivera's relationship with Frida Kahlo had been stormy, Rivera was devastated by the death of Frida Kahlo in 1954. In September 1957 Diego Rivera suffered a stroke and an attack of phlebitis, depriving him of the use of his right arm. He did not complain of pain, but "the brush no longer obeyed him." Although weak, he continued to paint and even remarried. He died of heart failure in 1957.
Watermelons relate to the traditional Mexican Day of the Dead, when relatives imagine their dead feasting on watermelon and other favorite foods. On this day, Mexicans celebrate their dead rather than mourn them.
Watermelons are also the subject matter of Frida Kahlo's last painting Viva la Vida, Watermelons, which came three years earlier in 1954 when she was more passionate about still life painting and regularly featured Watermelons in a variety of arrangements.