Recto: written in pencil, lower right, "La Reina de Mexico" / written in reverse, "Rick Barton 9.4.60"
Little is known about Barton, who was an influential figure among a small coterie of artists in San Francisco in the 1950s and 60s. Raised in New York City, he may have received some formal art training, but he was also a voracious autodidact. Influenced by the primacy of the line in Chinese painting, which he may have encountered on a visit to China in the 1940s while serving in the Navy, he worked primarily in pen or brush and ink. He often drew in coffee shops, such as Foster's Cafeteria beneath the Wentley Hotel, using a yatate, an antique Japanese implement incorporating a portable inkpot and a small brush. He filled sheets and accordion-fold books with figures, buildings, and interiors rendered in his characteristic linear style. Barton produced La Reina de Mexico on one of several trips he made to Mexico. It shows a throng of pilgrims within the nave of what is almost certainly the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.