Christina's World

Christina's World is a 1948 painting by American painter Andrew Wyeth and one of the best-known American paintings of the mid-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 held by the Museum of Modern Art, in New York.[1]

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


The woman in the painting is Anna Christina Olson (May 3, 1893 – January 27, 1968). Anna had a degenerative muscular disorder which meant that she had not been able to walk since she was a young child.[1] She was firmly against using a wheelchair, so she would crawl everywhere. 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.[2]

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.[3] It is a National Historic Landmark and has been restored to match its appearance in the painting,[4][5][6] although Wyeth separated the house from its barn and changed the lay of the land for the painting.

Reception and historyEdit

Christina's World was first exhibited at the Macbeth Gallery in Manhattan in 1948.[7] 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 (equivalent to $16,500 in 2021 dollars). 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.[8][9]

In popular cultureEdit

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.[10][11] It does not appear in the film adaptation directed by Stanley Kubrick. The painting is also part of the sci-fi film Oblivion (2013), paying homage to the novel.

The life of Olson and her encounter with Wyeth is portrayed in the novel A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline.[12]

A scene in the 1994 film Forrest Gump[13] and a chapter in the 2020 video game The Last of Us Part II[14] were inspired by the painting.

The painting is also referenced in the 2020 film I'm Thinking of Ending Things,[15][16] a season 4 episode of the TV series Atlanta, a Madeline Johnston song of the same name,[17] and Ethel Cain's music video for the 2022 song "American Teenager."[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Christina's World
  2. ^ Corliss, Richard (1986-08-18). "Andrew Wyeth's Stunning Secret". Time. Archived from the original on January 5, 2013. Retrieved 2008-01-19.
  3. ^ "The Olson House". Farnsworth Museum. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
  4. ^ 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...
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ 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 ...
  7. ^ Kimmelman, Michael (January 16, 2009). "Andrew Wyeth, Painter, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  8. ^ Esaak, Shelley. "Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth". Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  9. ^ Baker Kline, Christina (January 20, 2020). "Shelving 'Christina's World'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  10. ^ Clarke, Arthur, C. 2001: A Space Odyssey. New American Library, 1993, p. 209.
  11. ^ Olson House, Knox, Maine. National Register of Historic Places, Registration Form, Section 8, p. 3.
  12. ^ Aikman, Becky (February 24, 2017). "Mystery Woman: A Novel Explores the Story of Andrew Wyeth's 'Christina's World'". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  13. ^ "How was Greenbow, Alabama, in 'Forrest Gump' influenced by the art of Norman Rockwell". The Take. ScreenPrism. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  14. ^ "ArtStation - The Last of Us Part II - Farmhouse, reuben shah". ArtStation. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  15. ^ I'm Thinking of Ending Things
  16. ^ Bentley, Alex. "Charlie Kaufman strangeness abounds in I'm Thinking of Ending Things". CultureMap Austin. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  17. ^ "Midwife - Christina's world". Genius.
  18. ^ "Ethel Cain - American Teenager (Official Video)". YouTube.

External linksEdit