Sunday, October 26, 2014

Farnsworth & Olson House - The Wyeth Pilgrimage


The Olson House

Maine Re-cap Part 2

Up bright and early on a not bright and sunny Saturday and headed off for the Farnsworth Museum and the Olson House. A quick stop at the museum to get my admission ticket for the Olson House and on my way to Cushing, Maine.
There were so many interesting things to stop and look at, but because my time was somewhat limited, I hurried on.

The house looms up as you round the bend sitting atop what used to be a nearly treeless hill. 100 years ago you could see Monhegan Island from here and the sea captain who built the house (Captain Hathorn) conducted a successful business shipping up and down the river and down the coast. On this day it's very quiet in the fog and misty rain.




I am in the first tour of the day with an older couple and a really nice and knowledgeable docent named Chris. He first gave us an overall history of the house and then we walked through it, room by room. He had some interesting back stories about how the house came into the Farnsworth's collection, local gossip that Walter Anderson was also the town peeping-Tom, and Andrew Wyeth's anger at Betsy for buying a house! He also described what the Olson house was like back when Wyeth painted here (a disaster for the most part), his and Betsy's relationship with the Olsons, and Christina's disabilities.

The house is mostly unfurnished and undecorated - the original furnishings and other items were auctioned off back in the '60s. But the light and autumn colors through the windows (especially on this dreary day) evokes a quiet, austere, rustic, Maine-ness and you can almost imagine Wyeth looking out those windows and painting in those rooms.


Front room on the right

Back of house, second floor, left side
Back of house, second floor, left side

Third floor, right side looking at kitchen chimney. Wyeth painted this view of the kitchen chimney.

Back of house, facing front door

Back of house, looking into first room

Kitchen room where Christina and her brother Alvaro spent much of their time.

Outside - kitchen window

Christina's grave

Christina's parent's grave. Katie Hathorn was the great daughter of the sea captain that built the original two-story house. 

The view from the cemetery of the house

The cemetery with Andrew Wyeth's grave at the front

After absorbing as much as I possibly could I headed back to the Farnsworth to have a look around - check out the exhibits at the Wyeth Center and generally immerse myself in more Wyeth.


Yes, I did. Wasses (Famous) Hot Dogs. OMG Delicious! Mmmmm - Grilled onions! Cheese! I should have gotten TWO! This is the one south of Rockland on Hwy 1.

At the Museum

Stopped at Wyeth Center to see The Wyeths, Maine and the Sea. This exhibit includes includes a selection of paintings by James G. Babbidge, George Bellows, Walter Dean, James Fitzgerald, Rockwell Kent, Fitz Henry Lane, William Edward Norton, William Pierce Stubbs, Frederick Waugh, and Andrew Winter, as well as the Wyeths – and a selection of ship models that include the (ghost ship) Mary Celeste, the seven masted schooner Thomas Lawson, and more.

NC Wyeth

Andrew Winter, Sequin Island Light

Eric Hudson, An Island Harbor


Robert Henri, Monhegan Island

Mary Celeste

NC Wyeth

Jan Domelia, Monhegan Harbor

Frederick Waugh

I would highly recommend this pilgrimage to any artist and painter heading to Maine. I would love to visit again and perhaps on a less dreary, drippy day, drive around and have a look at the rest of the area surrounding Cushing. It is quite beautiful and full of potential paintings!