Christina’s World Today

“Christina’s World” Andrew Wyeth (1948)

A portrait painting may depict the subject in a variety of ways, such as ‘head’, ‘head and shoulders’, ‘half length’, ‘full length’, as well as in profile, ‘full face or ‘three-quarter view’, and with varying degrees of light and shadow. An unusual example would certainly be Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting, “Christina’s World”, where the face of the subject is not visible at all.

Out of curiosity, I have done a little research. The subject is Christina Olson (1893-1968), who lived on a farm in Cushing, Maine, where the famous American artist Andrew Wyeth spent many summers of his productive career. His wife Betsy, in her twenties, was also a model for the painting – Christina Olson was by then in her fifties. Christina Olson suffered from a degenerative muscular disorder which took away her ability to walk when she was in her thirties and, preferring not to use a wheelchair, crawled about the house and grounds as depicted. The painting is an American icon, on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and is very rarely loaned. The house, now owned by the Farnsworth Art Museum, has been restored to appear as it was in the painting, and was officially designated a National Landmark in 2011.

Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)


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