Anna Weyant - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 14, 2022 | Phillips
  • "I like it when there's something that's not quite right in the image, something that doesn't fit… sometimes I have fun playing with the 'Instagram meets old painting' type of clash."
    —Anna Weyant
    Enigmatic and alluring, the young Cynthia looks out at us with an inscrutable and disarmingly knowing gaze characteristic of Anna Weyant’s beguiling studies of adolescent girlhood. Richly painted in creamy porcelain tones touched with blushes of rose and peach, the portrait demonstrates the young artist’s remarkable painterly skill, and the careful balance struck by her precisely rendered works between Old Master luxuriance and Surreal disquiet. 


    Intensely luminous, Cynthia’s smooth, softened contours and muted palette of ‘subdued liquid chartreuse, embellished with unexpected twists’ are all highly evocative of the technical perfection and compositional clarity sought by Early Netherlandish painters such as Rogier van der Weyden, whose translucent surface textures and dramatic manipulation of light heightened the sense of devotional restraint advocated by his exquisitely modelled figures.i Adopting a kind of Gothic elegance, almost unnatural in its beauty, Weyant plays with these art historical connections in her three-quarter portrait, drawing wickedly sharp associations between compositional control and the illusion of emotional restraint later developed in the ‘sea-washed cleanliness’ of Lucian Freud’s early portraits.ii 


    Left: Lucian Freud, Girl with Roses, 1947 – 48, British Council, London. Image and Artwork: © The Lucian Freud Archive. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
    Right: Rogier van der Weyden, Portrait of a Lady, c. 1460, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Image: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1937.1.44

    The Trauma of Girlhood 


    Representing what some have described as ‘a new female genre […] about the female body and the agency of women over their bodies’, Weyant’s portraits nevertheless incorporate a charged tragi-comic element that is difficult to place precisely.iii While her still lifes have an air of scenes suddenly abandoned, her portraits are more emotionally complex, her ‘sort of semi-sympathetic, almost pathetic, but very endearing’ characters drawn from a small group of friends whose features blend and morph into each other, taking on the smoothed and rounded faces of Madeline dolls.

    A portrait of the painter Cynthia Talmadge, who Weyant worked with as a studio assistant before her more recent rise to fame, the beguiling piece returns her subject to girlhood while retaining the air of quiet knowing that comes with maturity. Bringing the child and adult back into such close proximity in this precocious and quietly deviant figure, Weyant captures the charged moment of adolescence and the ‘low stakes trauma of girlhood’ with deft precision.iv As the artist has explained, the passage between childhood and adulthood holds a particular fascination for her, a ‘traumatic, dramatic, devastating, and hilarious time’ that she finds herself compulsive returning to in her work and in the characters she depicts.v 
    "I always thought she had a timeless look about her, like she could have been transported from the 1940s. I love when people have a sensibility about them that reminds you of some bygone era. It’s rare."
    —Anna Weyant 
    Executed in 2019, Cynthia is one of several works based on the same sitter, one of which was included in Weyant's debut solo presentation, Welcome to the Dollhouse, hosted by 56 Henry in New York the same year. Cinematic with a sinister twist, the title of the exhibition was a direct reference to Todd Solondz’s 1995 darkly offbeat coming of age film of the same name, although in terms of Weyant’s painting, it was the dollhouse itself that took centre stage. Featuring two paintings of the traditional toy, the exhibition unfolded in a series of tragi-comic vignettes staged like isolated episodes from within the house featuring her cast of doll-like girls, including ‘Cynthia’.   


    Domenico Gnoli, Black Hair, 1969, Private Collection. Image: Mondadori Portfolio/Electa/Sergio Anelli/Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © Domenico Gnoli, SIAE / DACS, London 2022

    It's smooth, impassive surface like a veneer to mask the emotional complexity beneath, Cynthia exemplifies the young Weyant’s flair for the theatrical, and the space that her paintings occupy between innocence and the uncanny. Drawing us in and generating a powerful sense of intimacy or complicity between subject, artist, and audience, Cynthia illustrates critic Cole Sweetwood’s claim that ‘in terms of technical ability, Weyant’s works rival the Dutch Golden Age masters which inspire her work, and in terms of narrative, she surpasses them.’vi


    Collector’s Digest 

    • Born in 1995 in Calgary, Canada, Anna Weyant lives and works in New York. She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Propelled into international stardom only within the past few years, Weyant has had multiple solo shows, beginning with her first high profile show, Welcome to the Dollhouse at 56 Henry, New York in 2019, followed by Loose Screw at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles in 2021, which sold out instantly; and Splinter with Blum & Poe, Tokyo (29 January - 12 March 2022). 

    • In June 2021, Phillips New York had debuted Weyant’s work at auction with a work on paper that sold for more than five times its low estimate; in May 2022, her 2021 painting Buffett II, sold for US$730,800 (premium), more than seven times its low estimate.

    • In the same month, Gagosian gallery announced their solo representation of Weyant, making her the youngest artist to have joined the gallery’s roster at 27 years old. Her first solo exhibition with Gagosian, New York will be opening next month. 


    i Sasha Bogojev, ‘Anna Weyant: Welcome to the Dollhouse’, Juxtapoz, 13 July 2020, online.

    ii Lawrence Gowing, Lucian Freud, London,1982, p. 81.
    iii Wendy Cromwell, quoted in Katya Kazakina, ‘Prices? Six Figures – at Least. Waitlist? Interminable. Gagosian is Preparing for its Highly Anticipated Anna Weyant Solo Debut in November, Artnet News, 7 September 2022, online

    iv Anna Weyant, quoted in Noor Brara, ‘Artist Anna Weyant Paints the Indignities of Being a Young Woman—and Collectors of All Ages Can’t Get Enough,’ 16 September 2021, Artnet news, online.
    v Anna Weyant ,quoted in Sasha Bogojev, ‘Anna Weyant: Welcome to the Dollhouse’, Juxtapoz, 2019, online
    vi Cole Sweetwood, ‘Pick of the Week: Anna Weyant, Alexander Tovborg, and Asuka Ogawa: Blum and Poe’, Artillery, 21 April 2021, online

    • Provenance

      56 Henry, New York
      Private Collection, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner



signed and dated ‘Anna Weyant 2019’ on the reverse
oil on panel
61 x 45.7 cm (24 x 18 in.)
Painted in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £302,400

Contact Specialist

Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+44 20 7318 4060

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 14 October 2022