The Andrew Wyeth painting to be auctioned this weekend shows the back of the Olson House in Cushing. The other side of the house is seen in Wyeth’s “Christina’s World.”

Most people are used to seeing only one depiction of the Olson House, the location that Andrew Wyeth’s renowned painting “Christina’s World” (1948) was based on. However, Wyeth had given a painting showcasing the back of the farmhouse in Cushing six years earlier to Anna Christina Olson and her brother Alvaro.

This weekend “The Olson House” will be put up for sale at an auction hosted by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, with an estimated value of $75,000 to $125,000, says the owner of the gallery, Kaja Veilleux.

This perspective of the Olson House has mostly stayed private for the last 75 years. John Olson, a nephew of Christina, along with his father and his wife, Betty, were combing through the Olson House in 1968 when Betty came across the painting. It was one of Wyeth’s lesser-known paintings but it caught her attention, and she asked John’s father if she would be able to keep it.

After moving it in and out of storage, John and Betty decided to house the painting at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, where it has been on display in several Wyeth collections.

Thomaston Place Auction Gallery interviewed John Olson in July at the Olson House, where he told the story of how he came to acquire the painting. Now 97 years old, he has decided to auction off this unique depiction of his family’s home.

Wyeth painted “The Olson House” as a black-and-white sketch with a cluster of trees in the forefront, a much different look from the rolling fields of wheat in “Christina’s World.” In an inscription on the lower right of the painting, Wyeth wrote, “To Christina and Alvaro, from Betsy and Andy.”


While the bidding for the painting will start at $37,500, Veilleux expects it to go for much more.

Along with Wyeth’s “The Olson House,” his piece “Spruce Timber,” from 1946, will also be put up for sale. It depicts two men cutting down trees, and has an even higher value estimate: $100,000 to $200,000. A painting by Jamie Wyeth, 72, Andrew’s son, will also be featured among his father’s works. “Fog,” which Jamie Wyeth produced in 2000, has a starting bid of $100,000, but is estimated to go for $200,000 to $250,000.

This weekend’s auction includes a total of 1,106 items up for sale, Veilleux said. Thomaston Gallery hosts four multimillion-dollar auctions every year, with the upcoming event housing $4.2 million to $5.5 million worth of pieces of art, jewelry, sculptures and other historical items, he added. A full list describing each item on sale this weekend can be found on the gallery’s website.

Veilleux said the gallery works to incorporate a Maine theme at its auctions.

“The auction has over a hundred pieces of living Maine artists’ art,” he said. “We always try to have paintings by Maine artists in our sales to help promote artists in our area.”

The Olson House and its surrounding property were a common subject of Wyeth’s work. In total he created over 300 paintings featuring the house, each providing a unique perspective, and spent three decades working around the area, said David Troupe, communications officer at the Farnsworth. Some of those reside at the museum, which also owns the Olson House. Today the house is a National Historic Landmark, and is open for tours to see where Wyeth got his inspiration.


“There’s something about that house,” Troupe said. “There’s a reason why so many great photographers keep going back to that house to take photos. It is aesthetically gorgeous.”

The Farnsworth museum has about 68 Wyeth paintings in all, including works from three generations of the family. It also works with the Olson family and the Wyeth Study Center to display a wider range of Wyeth pieces.

“Christina’s World” is currently owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. However, since Wyeth used the house in so many of his paintings, one doesn’t have to travel far to see it.

This weekend’s auction hosted by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries runs on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 11 a.m. each day.

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