Diego Rivera was born on December 13, 1886 in the mountain town of Guanajuato in Mexico. His mother was an ardent Catholic and his father was a rich and aristocratic revolutionary fighter and an atheist. Little Diego decided in favor of atheism. He swore his family had to leave Guanajuato when he was six because of his diatribes against the Church. When he was eleven he attended the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts; his real teacher was Jose Posada, whose printmaking shop stood near the school.
At the age of twenty he won a traveling scholarship and spent the next three years in museums and painting in Europe, expressing little of what he felt. In 1910 he returned to Mexico and became involved in the revolution that ended with the forcing out of office the aging dictator Diaz. In 1911 his scholarship was renewed and he sailed for Europe again, this time for a period of ten years. In Paris, he set up housekeeping with a pretty Russian blonde named Angeline Beloff, his first common-law wife; from her he learned the Russian language and from her friends he learned all about Marxism. He also learned about Cubism and Picasso.