Christina's World

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Christina's World
ArtistAndrew Wyeth
MediumEgg tempera on gessoed panel[1]
Dimensions81.9 cm × 121.3 cm (​32 14 in × ​47 34 in)[1]
LocationMuseum of Modern Art, New York City

Christina's World is a 1948 painting by American painter Andrew Wyeth and one of the best-known American paintings of the middle 20th century. It is a tempera work done in a realist style, depicting a woman semi-reclining on the ground in a treeless, mostly tawny field, looking up at a gray house on the horizon; a barn and various other small outbuildings are adjacent to the house.[1] It is owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of its permanent collection.[1]


The woman in the painting is Anna Christina Olson (3 May 1893 – 27 January 1968). She probably suffered from Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, a genetic polyneuropathy.[2][3] Wyeth was inspired to create the painting when he saw her crawling across a field while he was watching from a window in the house. He had a summer home in the area and was on friendly terms with Olson, using her and her younger brother as the subjects of paintings from 1940 to 1968. Olson was the inspiration and subject of the painting but she was not the primary model; Wyeth's wife Betsy posed as the torso of the painting. Olson was 55 at the time that Wyeth created the work.[4]

The house depicted in the painting is known as the Olson House in Cushing, Maine and is open to the public, operated by the Farnsworth Art Museum.[5] It is a National Historic Landmark and has been restored to match its appearance in the painting,[6][7][8] although Wyeth separated the house from its barn and changed the lay of the land for the painting.

Reception and history[edit]

Christina's World was first exhibited at the Macbeth Gallery in Manhattan in 1948.[9] It received little attention from critics at the time, but Alfred Barr, the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), bought the painting for $1,800. He promoted it at MoMA and it gradually grew in popularity over the years. Today, it is considered an icon of American art and is rarely loaned out by the museum.[10][11]

It is often perceived as the embodiment of a strong sense of longing.

In popular culture[edit]

In Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, Christina's World is one of the two paintings (the other one being Vincent van Gogh's Bridge at Arles) hanging on the living room wall of "an elegant, anonymous hotel suite" to which the astronaut David Bowman is transported after passing through the Star Gate.[12][13] It does not appear in the film adaptation directed by Stanley Kubrick.

In issue #28 of Garth Ennis's comics series Preacher, Jesse Custer is sitting in front of the painting in the MoMA, examining it. In issue #43, the story of which is titled "Christina's World", Jesse relates his visit to the museum to his mother, Christina L'Angell, who explains to him that when she first discovered the painting in a book, she thought Wyeth had painted her own life. In addition, the cover to issue #43 by artist Glenn Fabry is a variation of Christina's World, with Christina in the role of Anna Christina Olson.

The painting is shown and discussed in the 2000 thriller film The In Crowd.[non-primary source needed]

The life of Olson and her encounter with Wyeth is portrayed in the novel A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline.[14]

A print of the painting was seen periodically in the last three seasons of the sitcom That Girl (1966–1971).

A scene in the 1994 film Forrest Gump was inspired by the painting. When Jenny returns home, she throws herself on the ground and mirrors Olson's pose in reverse.[15]

The painting is also part of the sci-fi film Oblivion (2013), paying homage to the book 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The painting appears in the 2016 film War on Everyone, during a scene in which Terry looks at a reproduction hanging on a wall in Jackie's house and comments: "It's kinda creepy. It's like something bad's gonna happen but there's nothing she can do about it."

The painting was used as inspiration for the "Farmhouse" chapter in the 2020 video game The Last of Us Part II.[16]

The painting was referenced in the 2020 film I'm Thinking of Ending Things[17]

Among other artists (The Big Dish, Nancy Priddy), Men Without Hats issued a song titled in homage to the work.


  1. ^ a b c d e Christina's World in the MoMA Online Collection
  2. ^ Surugue, Léa (6 May 2016). "Christina's World: Mystery illness of Andrew Wyeth's most famous painting discovered". International Business Times. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  3. ^ The 23rd Historical Clinicopathological Conference, University of Maryland School of Medicine, May 6, 2016
  4. ^ Corliss, Richard (1986-08-18). "Andrew Wyeth's Stunning Secret". Time. Retrieved 2008-01-19.
  5. ^ "The Olson House". Farnsworth Museum. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
  6. ^ Museum, Farnsworth (June 2, 2016). "Olson House and Farnsworth Homestead Open for Season". The Free Press. Retrieved October 28, 2016. The house’s exterior woodwork was restored...
  7. ^ Mena, Tim (January 12, 2016). "Christina's World: CUSHING, ME ~ Mid-18th Century". Long Leaf Lumber. Retrieved October 28, 2016. multimillion-dollar renovation projects ... extensive renovations at the Olson House
  8. ^ Ernest, Dagney C. (May 20, 2016). "Olson House lecture details year-long effort". Village Soup. Retrieved October 28, 2016. the restoration of the house’s exterior woodwork ...
  9. ^ Kimmelman, Michael (January 16, 2009). "Andrew Wyeth, Painter, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  10. ^ Esaak, Shelley. "Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth". Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  11. ^ Baker Kline, Christina (January 20, 2020). "Shelving 'Christina's World'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  12. ^ Clarke, Arthur, C. 2001: A Space Odyssey. New American Library, 1993, p.209.
  13. ^ Olson House, Knox, Maine. National Register of Historic Places, Registration Form, Section 8, p.3.
  14. ^ Aikman, Becky (Feb 24, 2017). "Mystery Woman: A Novel Explores the Story of Andrew Wyeth's 'Christina's World'". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  15. ^ "How was Greenbow, Alabama, in 'Forrest Gump' influenced by the art of Norman Rockwell". The Take. ScreenPrism. Retrieved 2019-08-22.
  16. ^ "ArtStation - The Last of Us Part II - Farmhouse, reuben shah". ArtStation. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  17. ^ Bentley, Alex. "Charlie Kaufman strangeness abounds in I'm Thinking of Ending Things". CultureMap Austin. Retrieved 2020-09-07.

External links[edit]