|Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth, 1948|
From the Discover magazine blog comes this note about the secret sadness behind this iconic painting:"
In 1896, at the early age of three, Anna Christina Olson had trouble walking. Her balance was off, she walked with a notably unusual waddle even for a toddler, and her mother crafted knee pads to buffer her tumbles. These difficulties of gait and balance would worsen as she aged, a progressive deterioration of function, causing the girl to lose strength first in her legs and then eventually in her arms and hands before she became nearly immobile. In 1919, during her mid-20s, she reluctantly agreed to spend one fruitless week in Boston City Hospital as an inpatient. They failed to diagnose her, offering the uninspiring prescription that she “just go on living as [she had] always done”.
Christina never used a wheelchair, preferring to crawl around her home, a 16-room farmhouse and its massive grounds in Cushing, Maine. Andrew Wyeth would describe her “crawling like a crab over the New England shore,” using the remaining strength in her shoulders and hips to pitch herself forward. She is captured in this precise pose, mid-crawl up a hill, in Wyeth’s painting.