Frida Kahlo painted " A few small Nips" in 1935 to illustrate her feelings towards her husband affair with her sister Cristina.
The painting in essence illustrates how easily and lightly Diego mortally hurt her. In the painting the injuries are physically deadly, in Frida's case the mortal pain is emotional (“I have been murdered by life” wrote Frida in one of her letters.)
The painting also shows how this deadly pain inflicted is considered, by the perpetrator (i.e. Diego) irrelevant, not important, just “a few small nips”.
We know that Frida Kahlo often worked on her paintings over the years, adding items and always strengthening her statement. “A Few Small Nips” is an example of this development which we can follow from the photos taken between 1935 and 1948 since she kept this painting in her Blue House.
Painting: Frida Kahlo, A few small Nips, 1935; Licensed replica: ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008.
Originally the painting had a normal wooden frame in brown colour and few blood spots; over time she added a small bamboo bird cage on the top left, to match exactly the white dove, which now is inside the cage. As we see from the photo and the reconstruction we made of the cage in the painting, the door of the cage is slightly open but not enough to allow the dove to fly away and be free.
This imagery of being prisoner of her love for Diego can be also found in the Painting Nr. 87: “Diego in my thoughts”.
She also planted a knife on the frame of the painting, a reminder of how much Diego hurt her.
Over the years she kept adding blood on the painting, she painted the frame in red-blood, and added blood-coloured spots on the frame as well.
She also stabbed and damaged the frame with the knife; every knife mark was a reminder of the pain Diego inflicted her with his “irrelevant” affairs.
The painting “A few small Nips” must be shown in its completeness, as Frida had it in display in her studio: with the cage and the knife, to be able to understand the full meaning Frida gave this painting.