Prussian-born Helga Testorf, modeled for Wyeth between 1971 and 1985, without the knowledge of either Wyeth's wife, Besty, or Helga's husband, John. She met Wyeth when she was attending to Karl Kuerner, Wyeth's neighhbor. She had never modeled before, but the 32 year old woman quickly became comfortable with the long periods of posing. Wyeth painted her clothed and nude, awake and asleep. She is nearly always unsmiling and passive. Wyeth often focused on a particular element such as her reddish hair or the light falling on a curve of her body leaving the rest of the image less finished. This extensive study of one subject studied in differing contexts and emotional states is unique in American art.
In 1986, millionaire Leonard E.B. Andrews purchased almost the entire collection, preserving it intact. The estimated selling price of the 240 pictures is upward of $15 Million. A very few Helga paintings had already been given away to friends, including the famous Lovers, which had already been given as a gift to Wyeth's wife.
The Helga works are now owned by a private Japanese industrialist, who has agreed to allow additional exhibitions. In March 2002, Wyeth painted Gone, his last Helga picture.
Click HERE to read Wyeth's biography.