The present work depicts Ann Call, who also posed for the artist's 1984 tempera entitled, Beauty Mark. In The Houseguest, Andrew Wyeth captures a stunning physical likeness of his subject, whose turned head hides a distant gaze yet reveals an intense emotional insight into her personality. Executed in 1982, Wyeth painted the present work while concealing his renowned Helga series, completed over a fifteen-year period from 1971 to 1985. Comparable to the Helga pictures, The Houseguest reveals Wyeth's mastery of a complete portrait, capturing the embodiment of an individual's mood, character and temperment. With restrained elegance, Ann Call's face, shoulders and hands are painted with a precision that recalls some of the artist's finest watercolor portraits. Wyeth comments, "I honestly consider myself an abstractionist. Eakins' figures actually breathe in the frame. My people, my objects, breathe in a different way; there's another core--an excitement that's definitely abstract." (as quoted in J. Wilmderding, Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1987, p. 160)
This watercolor will be included in Betsy James Wyeth's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's works.