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The Cover |

Wind From the Sea

Janet M. Torpy, MD
JAMA. 2012;307(21):2226. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3014.
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Imagine an upper-story room of a broken-down house during the middle of a Maine summer: hot, humid, stagnant air—a miasma so strong it could suffocate its inhabitants—redolent with floating dust motes. Such was the chamber where Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) drew his inspiration for Wind From the Sea (cover). Christina Olson lived in that house—the family home—with her brother Al, the same Christina Olson who Wyeth painted in his most famous work, the 1948 Christina's World. Wyeth knew the Olsons for many years, visited their home frequently despite its squalid condition, and depicted their essences in portraits that exude unvarnished truth. In the third-floor bedroom, on one of his visits to the Olsons, Wyeth opened a window. A slight August breeze stirred the sheer, probably threadbare, curtains, wafting their delicate tracery. At that moment, now captured for posterity, Wyeth received a gift, the epiphany he craved and so often absorbed, to later transform into a painting. In the room, on the strength of that sea breeze, New England's heat dissipated, and maybe so did a bit of Wyeth's grief.

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Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), Wind From the Sea, 1947, American. Tempera on hardboard. 47 × 70 cm. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art (http://www.nga.gov/), Washington, DC; gift of Charles H. Morgan, 2009.13.1. © Andrew Wyeth.

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