In her 2017 novel, Kline imagines the life of Christina Olson, who, along with her brother, was often a subject for painter Andrew Wyeth when he was at his summer home in Cushing, Maine. She inspired Wyeth's most famous painting, Christina's World.
One of the best-known American paintings, Christina's World painting depicts a woman in a pink summer dress, apparently reclining in a field and looking beyond a tawny, sundrenched field to a gray house and nearby barns and outbuildings in the distance. While the scene on the surface can evoke feelings of loneliness and a sense of melancholy, those emotions run even deeper when the viewer knows the story behind the painting. It was a scene with which Wyeth was familiar. Looking out his window at his summer home, he often saw Olson—55 at the time he created the painting—in the field, though she was not reclining and enjoying a sunny day. Olson had a degenerative muscular disorder that progressed to the point where she could not walk by age 30. She refused to use a wheelchair, however, preferring instead to crawl everywhere she went. Wyeth’s painting forever captured an instant of her struggle.
While Christina was the inspiration for the painting, the artist’s wife, Betsy, posed as the torso for Christina’s World, which is part of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
There is no cost to attend AMA Art Lovers Book Club meetings and no formal membership requirement. Those attending may bring a favorite beverage to enjoy during the discussion.