Christina's World

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Christina's World
Artist Andrew Wyeth
Year 1948[1]
Medium Tempera on gessoed panel[1]
Dimensions 81.9 cm × 121.3 cm (32 14 in × 47 34 in)[1]
Location Museum 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 depicts a woman lying 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]

This tempera work, done in a realist style called magic realism, is currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, as a part of its permanent collection.[1]


The woman in the painting is Anna Christina Olson (3 May 1893 – 27 January 1968). She is likely to have 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. Wyeth 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.[4] Although Olson was the inspiration and subject of the painting, she was not the primary model—Wyeth's wife Betsy posed as the torso of the painting.[4] Olson was 55 at the time Wyeth created the work.[4]

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

Reception and history[edit]

Christina's World was first exhibited at the Macbeth Gallery in Manhattan in 1948.[6] Although it received little attention from critics at the time, the painting was quickly bought by Alfred Barr, the founding director of MoMA, for $1,800. Barr promoted the painting 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.[7]


  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. ^ a b c Corliss, Richard (1986-08-18). "Andrew Wyeth's Stunning Secret". Time. Retrieved 2008-01-19. 
  5. ^ "The Olson House". Farnsworth Museum. 
  6. ^ Kimmelman, Michael (January 16, 2009). "Andrew Wyeth, Painter, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  7. ^ Esaak, Shelley. "Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth". Retrieved 5 May 2012. 

External links[edit]