Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Andrew Wyeth: Christina's Bedroom

You've seen Christina's World. But have you seen her bedroom?

Andrew Wyeth's most celebrated painting is Christina's World, on view in New York's Museum of Modern Art. It's a marvelous painting, seemingly full of unstated possibilities and, in its realism, strikingly different from the modernist fare that is the museum's bread and butter.

By contrast, I was just a little disheartened to see Wyeth's watercolor rendering of Christina's Bedroom from 1947 which was auctioned at Sotheby's in 2009. I guess I had hoped Christina might have a nicer room and a better life. The bedroom is relatively spare and stark, depicted with a bare mattress and bare walls. All of this seems to me to be a jarring contrast with the hope, determination, and limitless potential seen in the later 1948 tempera. Nice, stately cat, though.

Christina's World

Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917–2009)

1948. Tempera on panel, 32 1/4 x 47 3/4" (81.9 x 121.3 cm). Purchase


The woman crawling through the tawny grass was the artist's neighbor in Maine, who, crippled by polio, "was limited physically but by no means spiritually." Wyeth further explained, "The challenge to me was to do justice to her extraordinary conquest of a life which most people would consider hopeless." He recorded the arid landscape, rural house, and shacks with great detail, painting minute blades of grass, individual strands of hair, and nuances of light and shadow. In this style of painting, known as magic realism, everyday scenes are imbued with poetic mystery. --MoMA

Andrew Wyeth, Christina's Bedroom, 1947

Andrew Wyeth, Christina's Bedroom, 1947



  1. Thank you. I have never seen Christina's Bedroom before. How depressing, the colors I suppose, and that dreadful window that looks as if some kind of animal skin is being used for a curtain.

    I did however, see Jamie Wyeth's "Draft Age" up close and personal when it was hanging on a wall in the Chadd's Ford Inn and that was probably back in the late sixties.

    1. Yes, Leo, it's fascinating how Andrew Wyeth used his consummate skill with watercolor to show us something we really don't wish to see.