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WYETH, ANDREW - Card Signed by the American Artist and his secret model Helga Testorf
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WYETH, ANDREW - Card Signed by the American Artist and his secret model Helga Testorf

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WYETH, ANDREW. (1917-2009). American realist painter. CS. (“Andrew Wyeth”). 1p. 12mo. N.p., N.d. Additionally signed by Wyeth’s Prussian-American neighbor and model HELGA TESTORF (“love Helga”, born circa 1933) of whom Wyeth secretly made 240 paintings and drawings. To Brazilian artist BIA RIBAS.


The son of American illustrator N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth continued his father’s legacy as a realist painter of the Brandywine School. Since his first one-man show, Wyeth enjoyed wide acclaim as possibly America’s leading realist painter. His works are extremely popular and reflect the locales in which he lived – Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley and Cushing, Maine. His best known work is probably the iconic 1948 Christina’s World, which depicted his Maine neighbor Christina Olson, a polio victim, crawling up a field towards a distant farmhouse. In Chadd’s Ford he and his wife Betsy James Wyethrestored a group of buildings on the Brandywine River collectively referred to as The Mill, and his son Jamie Wyeth, also an artist, follows in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. The recipient of numerous honors, Wyeth was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1963, “for work ‘which in the great humanist tradition illuminated and clarified the verities of life’,” (St. Martin’s Press Dictionary of Biography).


Between 1971 and 1985, Wyeth made 240 paintings of Testorf, his Chadds Ford neighbor. Their sessions were kept secret from their respective spouses until the existence of the works became known in 1986 and caused a public sensation. “Testorf, a middle-aged woman in pigtails who was Mr. Wyeth’s neighbor in rural Pennsylvania, has the curious distinction of being the last person to be made famous by a painting. In this she joins that very select pantheon that includes Raphael’s Fornarina, John Singer Sargent’s Madame X, and the costive couple in Grant Wood's ‘American Gothic,’” (“A Villain in Pigtails,” The New York Sun, Gardner).


On the verso of Ribas’ illustrated business card and in excellent condition. Autographs of Wyeth are scarce in any form and this is the first we have seen of artist and his famous model. Framed with a photograph of Wyeth’s portrait of Helga entitled Braids (1977).



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