Arts and Culture
Food and Wine
People and Places
Science and Nature
Travel and Lodging
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
Home » ARTS AND CULTURE » MAINE » Farnsworth Art Museum: Wyeth Works On Loan from Japan
George Inness, Sunrise, 1860, Oil on canvas, Farnsworth Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Mary A. Boudreau in memory of Dwight Hitchcock
Farnsworth Art Museum: Wyeth Works On Loan from Japan

Rockland, Maine

By Robin Tierney | August 11, 2011

Some of Andrew Wyeth’s most intriguing works reside in Japan, but you can see them in mid-coast Maine now through October.

Just off Coastal Route 1 in Rockland, between Portland and Bar Harbor, the Farnsworth Art Museum offers a hearty slice of Maine-accented American art. Its collection spans four centuries and a broad array of movements and media.

During my July visit, I began at the three-acre campus’s Wyeth Center, a smart repurposing of the United Methodist Church, a striking white example of 19th century New England architecture. The downstairs and upstairs galleries feature works by Andrew Wyeth, widely considered America’s foremost realist painter of the 20th century, his father N.C. Wyeth, a masterful illustrator, and his son James Wyeth, who established his own style.

Through October 31, 2011, the Wyeth Center features about four dozen works on loan from the Marunuma Art Park in Asaka, Japan. The exhibition, Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World and the Olson House, offers a rare opportunity to view them without voyaging overseas. Online display of these – and most other – Wyeth family jewels is prohibited, so we cannot post sample images. But be assured, the technique, content, and atmosphere of these works fully justifies a visit.

Jonathan Fisher, “A Morning View of Blue Hill Village”, 1824, Oil on canvas, Farnsworth Art Museum Purchase, 1965

The exhibition’s watercolors and drawings include depictions of Christina Olson, her brother Alvaro Olson, the Maine, house in which they lived, and surrounding landscapes.

Christina, a bright and independent woman disabled throughout her life by an unknown condition, preferred to crawl instead of using a wheelchair.

Acquaintances remarked upon her ability to climb trees, row boats, harness horses, and drive carriages. Wyeth immortalized Christina in his iconic 1948 painting “Christina’s World.” Seen from the back, she appears to be crawling uphill through a field to the family farmhouse.

The Farnsworth doesn’t have that painting, which resides at the Museum of Modern Art. But it does own the farmhouse seen in the painting. Dubbed the Olson House and located several miles away in Cushing, Maine, it was designated a National Historic Landmark this July. Fans can tour the setting of some of Andrew Wyeth’s most cherished paintings, including those in the special Wyeth Center exhibition.

Lara Magruder, "DNA Chroma", 2004, Hand-dyed wool on monks cloth, 47 x 19 x 2 inches, Collection of the artist

Mesmerizing works include the 1940 watercolor “Olson’s Cove” and a 1957 scene of sunbeams sparkling upon a river. In“Alvaro’s Horse,” compare the realist’s finesse in capturing an animal’s muscles and the manmade sinew of the barn in the background. The 1962 “Wood Stove” captures the play of morning light on a sweater, metal stove, and wood chair – and spare, powerful bursts of color in a cluster of geraniums.

Leave time for works by Andrew Wyeth’s father and son. N.C. Wyeth selections include illustrations for “The Boy’s King Arthur” and “Robinson Crusoe,” and a fine oil of King Edward. James Browning (Jamie) Wyeth celebrates Maine’s distinctive places, people – and even felines in his magnetically quirky 1991 paean to the Maine Coon, among the oldest natural cat breeds in America.

The Farnsworth’s main building houses temporary and permanent exhibitions. Through September 11, 2011, catch the Four in Maine showcase of drawings by contemporary artists Mary Barnes, Emily Brown, John Moore, and T. Allen Lawson, and through this October 9, photographer Paul Capnigro’s “The Hidden Presence of Places,” which includes settings that reflect what he calls Maine’s “horizontal energy.”

Must-see permanent collection works run the gamut. There’s “Woman with a Red Scarf” by Louise Nevelson – did you know she grew up here in Rockland? Museum literature notes that her path was set when, at age nine, she studied a plaster cast of Joan of Arc in the Rockland Public Library. Nevelson and members of her family donated some eighty paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and pieces of jewelry to the Farnsworth.

Among my favorite Farnworth (and Maine-inspired) paintings are the 1860 “Sunrise” and 1859 “In the White Mountains” by George Inness, the panoramic 1824 “A Morning View of Blue Hill Village” by Jonathan Fisher, and “Cattle and Distant Mountains” – at 1822, it’s possibly the earliest known work by Thomas Cole. The Cole painting was donated by artist George Bellows, who also collected early Andrew Wyeth works. Among Bellows works at the Farnsworth: the 1945 oil on plywood, “Sea in Fog.”

Textile buffs, take note: “Beyond Rugs” will open September 24 and run through February 5, 2012. The show will celebrate the Maine tradition while including rug-hooking provocateurs who incorporate recycled materials and sculptural forms, such as early 20th-century modernist Marguerite Zorach. On view will be her 1937 “Snake and Bird.” Unconventionally stunning, it’s a fitting emblem for Maine art.

All images appear courtesy of the Farnsworth Art Museum, to whom ONE extends our thanks.


Farnsworth Art Museum

16 Museum Street, Rockland ME 04841

(207) 596-6457


Opening Hours:

May 28 to October 31

Daily: 10AM–5PM.

Every Wed and first Fri of the month: 10AM–8PM.

November 1 to May 27

Mon & Tue: Closed.

Wed–Sun: 10AM–5PM


Adults: $12

Seniors: $10

Ages sixteen and under: Free.

May 28 to October 31: Wed 5PM–8PM, and first Fridays free admission to all.

Note: One of the campus buildings, the Farnsworth Homestead, is closed this year for preservation work.   By the way, the museum, which opened in 1948, owes its existence to Lucy Copeland Farnsworth, whose father was a Rockland lime merchant and founder of the local water company.

Share |
ONE is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.