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Portrait of Christina Olson

(Andrew Wyeth, American Artist 1917-2009)

“There she was without affectation – the quality
of a Medici head.”
				– Andrew Wyeth

Who can look away and not be changed by his 
last portrait of her: brutal, gripping, grotesque 
of features, redeemed only by her steadfast spirit.

The nose large, strong, medieval; the forehead 
compressed, Neanderthal; the hanging jowls
heavy, flaccid; the whole head poised solidly on 
the massive neck, like a bold capitol capped 
atop a column; and the mouth’s protruding 
lower lip, brooding, resigned.

Yet more than these: the stare of that single eye 
closest to us –watchful, suspicious, mistrustful, 
menacing, almost contemptuous, as though 
she harbored some inner smoldering accusation 
against each of us, or perhaps our audacity, 
our presence, our peering into her privacy.

Insensitive observers, drugged on common,
pedestrian and superficial beauty, will find 
her ugly, an enigma, baffled that an artist like Wyeth
would waste his gifts on her – so much for
their ignorance.

Yet hidden somewhere beneath that disfigured,
heroic flesh, she wears her womanhood without 
apology, pretense, or feminine allure. 
Too magnificent for self-pity, she is in art 
what she was in life. In this her integrity 
remains inviolate, unassailable.

Copyright © Maurice Rigoler