Theme of “Christina’s World” and “Girl With a Pearl Earring”

Cultural Artifacts

I have chosen two paintings created by different authors for the current analysis. The first one is called Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth, created in 1948 (Esaak, 2020). Currently, the painting is located in the Museum of Modern Art in New York (Esaak, 2020). The second painting is the well-known Girl with a Pearl Earring created by Jan Vermeer in 1532 (Girl with a Pearl Earring, n.d.). The art piece is currently located in Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery, The Hague (Girl with a Pearl Earring, n.d.). Both painting have the common theme of hope in the ultimate despair. Even though the pictures are not overcomplicated with details, they have profound deep stories behind the depicted women.

Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth (1948)
Figure 1. Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth (1948)
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Andrew Wyeth
Figure 2. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Andrew Wyeth (1532). 

Common Theme

The first picture reflects the woman with a genetic disorder preventing her body from normal functioning. As a result, she cannot walk, but she tries to reach the beloved home hoping for the better in complete despair (Esaak, 2020). The second picture conveys the same meaning through the color choice. The bright face of the woman reflecting hope is depicted on the black background. Her facial expression shows the sadness and suffering that she bears. However, her eyes express hope and belief in a better. The earring can be interpreted as a protection against evil words and dark intentions surrounding the woman. Thus, the common theme in both paintings is a women’s ability to see the good and preserve hope even in the darkness.


Chosen cultural artifacts implicitly encourage people to find hope in ultimate despair through the theme of perseverance.

Personal Experience

The theme of hope is one of the relevant moral topics for me. The great creators showed that life is cruel through their pictures, and there may be many tragic situations when people lose hope. However, no matter the difficulties, hope in the darkness is the only true path for people. These paintings are inspiring for me, empowering better thoughts. The authors conveyed the idea that hardships will always be in human lives. However, they also highlighted that the final choice, to fight or give up, is always made by people.


The identified theme can impact representatives of some professional directions. The activities of social workers are directly affected by the mentioned topic. Their prior aim is to help others morally and mentally, thereby increasing the quality of others’ lives. Thus, they should be mentally stable and always create hope for themselves and the people they want to help. Teachers also can be affected by this topic because they are connected to raising the future generation. Their work is extremely important for the whole society. Being unable to create hope and strive for the better in the world’s cruelty will affect the children and make them mentally weak. Teachers should teach young people never to lose hope in their lives.

Humanities Resources

As discussed previously, I have chosen two paintings for the humanities analysis. Both artifacts share the common theme of keeping hope in a challenging world surrounding people. The mentioned art pieces are valuable from the perspective of preserving the shared ideas and tradition of human thought in different periods. More detailed exploration of this theme can be conducted through analyzing the humanities academic resources. Thanks to these resources, the historical contexts of the creation of the artifacts and their impact on society can be specified.

Humanities resources can help examine the topics and ideas implemented into the artifact. The academic article devoted to the Christina’s World painting describes the historical events that inspired Andrew Wyeth to draw (Benson, 2020). In another resource, Cole et al. (2018) discuss moral characteristics of the muse of the painter, highlighting the popular directions and themes of art of that period. This work is exceptionally vital for identifying the sentiments of the painting common for the creators of that time. Both scientific works are similar in terms of discussing the historical background of the picture. The main difference is that the second one provides an extensive analysis of the topics addressed through the painting and their relevance for the particular time period art traditions. In contrast, the first one is devoted primarily to the historical consequences which affected the artist’s worldview.

Another resource discusses the second artifact – Girl with a Pearl Earring. It is devoted to analyzing the character traits and image of women in society through the human subjectivity of the painter (Berg et al., 2019). This humanities resource has differentiating features from two previous ones. It focuses primarily on the more precise topic of human thoughts related to women’s role in society’s world perception. The mentioned resources are appropriate for my analysis because they touch upon the mentioned topic of hope. Moreover, the resources reveal more background information about the painters and the history of art pieces’ creation which can be helpful in examining the essence of artifacts. Trying to find the resources, I aimed at the background information and the relevant to topic discussions. It was not challenging for me to find these resources because many researchers analyzed the hidden topic implemented in these famous works. I have picked exactly these resources because they provide distinctive information about the history and life of artists, allowing to understand their intentions better.

Historical Context

From the historical perspective, Girl with the Pearl Earring was influenced by the golden age of Dutch painting, which is characterized by conveying human nature in portraits. The baroque, classicism, realism traditions, flourishing in the seventeenth century, have influenced the creation of the painting (Pirnazarov & Sultanov, 2021). Researchers believe that the picture has a deep meaning of reflecting hope in the darkness through the image of a strong and gentle woman (Berg et al., 2019). The most attention is paid to the earring, which represents genuine hope. However, the analysis of the colors showed that the pearl earring is nothing but an illusion. The artist created it using transparent and translucent white strokes (Berg et al., 2019). Therefore, the author tried to claim that people generate hope themselves. From one perspective, it can seem illusionary, but this is the reason to move forward for the depicted girl.

Considering the historical context under which Christina’s World was created, it is essential to mention the realism development. In accordance with the trends of this style, Wyeth chose the life of the province and the scarce nature of the American prairies as the theme of his work. Each canvas of the painter is a story, and sometimes even a whole novel, through which the master conveys to the viewer his attitude and subtle inner world. Turning to the origins of the canvas, researchers managed to learn shocking life story of Christina Olsen, a woman who lived next door to the artist in Cushing, Maine (Benson, 2018). As a 3-year-old child, she contracted polio, a disease that affected the lower part of her body. She then managed to survive, but her health deteriorated every year, and later she could only take a couple of steps.

One day, Andrew Wyeth, from the window of his house, which stood next to the house of the Olson family, saw Christina crawling across the field. The artist immediately came up with the idea to help the unfortunate woman. However, he rapidly realized that it was not the first time she had overcome this distance, not the last one either (Benson, 2018). And he restrained his impulse to help so as not to offend with pity. Olson was so impressed by the woman that he decided to create a picture of this moment. The development of realism style provided the artist with the opportunity to use combined perspective to convey hope in ultimate despair better. This angle, deliberately chosen by the artist, immerses the viewer in the world of a disabled person.

Similarities and Difference

As was mentioned earlier, both pictures reflect a similar theme. Even though these two works were created in different periods, they convey the same meaning claiming that only personal struggle can create hope in people’s hearts. Both paintings have similarities and differences based on the symbolic elements depicted by the authors. The outstanding symbolic component of the Girl with the Pearl Earring painting is the earring. Considering the general girl’s appearance, the earring attracts attention. As was mentioned earlier, this symbol was created to express the illusionary nature of hope (Berg et al., 2019). It was created only through the existence of dark colors in the background. Thus, this encouraging symbol shows that the hop cannot be born without darkness and despair.

Christina’s World also has a peculiar symbol expressing the creator’s idea. However, this symbol is used to show despair. The black belt on the woman’s dress shows the paralyzed part of her body (Benson, 2020). Unlike the first work’s symbol, the belt expresses the negative background of the story. The meaning of hope is conveyed by depicting a woman’s house and her pose deliberately striving to the light. Thus, the pictures are similar in using symbolism to reflect the necessity of striving for hope. However, the number of symbols and their distributions are different.


Considering the medium that could have empowered both pictures’ creation, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet should be mentioned. The themes of hope and despair are inherent elements of this tragedy. Some researchers believe that Girl with the Pearl Earring was created based on Shakespeare’s story (Berg et al., 2019). The woman turns back to her love, which is considered to be the person viewing the picture. Some analytics consider Christina’s World story similar to Shakespeare’s tragedy (Benson, 2020). Christina is separated from her loved ones by cruel fate, and only through striving for hope can she return to her family. Therefore, based on the conducted analysis, the thesis can be formulated as follows: researched paintings reflect the theme of the hope which people create themselves in the ultimate despair surrounding them.


As far as the discussed theme is existential, the audience for the presentation may be pretty vast. People who want to learn more about art and humanities and those who want to share their emotional struggles with others may be interested in the presentation. Moreover, the theme can also be beneficial for the representatives of the mentioned above professions contributing to their development in humanities.


Delivering the message will be rationally using the visual supportive material. For example, presenting a detailed analysis of some painting elements and symbols showing them on the screen would be rational. As far as the presentation is intended for the general audience, some of the terms applied by the scholars can be unfamiliar for people. Especially the terms regarding the historical styles and traditions which has affected the creation of paintings. In order to avoid overcomplicating the message, the terms usage should be minimized. Only the most vital for conveying the main ideas ones should be preserved. In order to get the audience accustomed to the necessary notions, it can be rational to provide the handout with the highlighted terms.

One of the most vital concepts of a successful presentation is to establish contact with the target audience. In order to create the effect of involvement in the theme and the humanities science, dialogue and interaction with the people should be used. The unification of the speaker and audience is a perfect opportunity to attract attention (Dragomir, Francisco-Lens, & Rodríguez-Vázquez, 2022). If the audience is interested in the proposed material, even complicated terms can be preserved aiming at scientific development in humanities.

Therefore, the analysis of the two artifacts: Girl with a Pearl Earring and Christina’s World, shows that cultural artifacts are similar in terms of the theme and motifs. The authors use the symbolic elements differently to convey the same idea of the struggle for hope in human lives. Due to the overwhelming nature of the theme, its humanitarian analysis can be a matter of interest for representatives of many ages and professions. As a result of a general audience, the presentation of the theme should be oriented on the plain explanations. However, the scientific terms should not be extracted out of the narration. The description of them should be provided for the audience to be able to comprehend the topic clearly. Such an approach contributes to the most efficient conveying of the ideas implemented by the artists and researchers.


Benson, J. (2020). The world of Christina: Reflections on the journey home. Appalachia, 72(2), 34–40. Web.

Berg, K., Loon, A., Vandivere, A., & Wadum, J. (2019). From ‘Vermeer Illuminated’ to ‘The Girl in the Spotlight’: Approaches and methodologies for the scientific (re-)examination of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. Heritage Science, 7(66), 1–12. Web.

Cole, T., Mackowiak, P., Patterson, M., & Siegel, E. (2018). A patient as art: Andrew Wyeth’s portrayal of Christina Olson’s neurologic disorder in Christina’s World. Journal of Child Neurology, 32(7), 647–649. Web.

Dragomir, M. Francisco-Lens, N., & Rodríguez-Vázquez, AI. (2022). Audiences first: Professional profiles, tools and strategies of digital newsrooms to connect with the public. Total Journalism, 97, 211–226. Web.

Esaak, Shelley. (2020). The story behind ‘Christina’s World’ by Andrew Wyeth. ThoughtCo. Web.

Girl with a Pearl Earring. (n.d.). Artble. Web.

Pirnazarov, N., & Sultanov, A. (2021). Mass culture: Towards the essence of the concept. Journal of Journal of Pedagogical Inventions and Practices, 1, 40–43. Web.

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"Theme of “Christina’s World” and “Girl With a Pearl Earring”." Premium Papers, 6 Jan. 2023,


Premium Papers. (2023) 'Theme of “Christina’s World” and “Girl With a Pearl Earring”'. 6 January.


Premium Papers. 2023. "Theme of “Christina’s World” and “Girl With a Pearl Earring”." January 6, 2023.

1. Premium Papers. "Theme of “Christina’s World” and “Girl With a Pearl Earring”." January 6, 2023.


Premium Papers. "Theme of “Christina’s World” and “Girl With a Pearl Earring”." January 6, 2023.