Artist Spotlight: Wayne Thiebaud

  • Artist Spotlight
  • Modern + Contemporary

Wayne Thiebaud was an American painter known for his depictions of everyday objects and scenes. While he is primarily associated with Pop Art, still lifes, and landscapes, on rare occasion he would work in portraiture.

Clars offered Thiebaud’s Portrait of Jean Lee Porter, an oil painting created in 1951/52, at our Summer Modern + Contemporary Art + Design Auction. This particular artwork is a rare example of portraiture in his oeuvre, commanding a total of $31,500.


Wayne Thiebaud, Portrait of Jean Lee Porter.
Wayne Thiebaud (American, 1920–2021), Portrait of Jean Lee Porter, 1951/52, oil on canvas/board, 16″ x 12″.
Sold: $31,500

The painting showcases Jean Lee Porter, a friend and model for Thiebaud. Thiebaud’s distinctive style is evident in this piece — characterized by his use of bold, vibrant colors and thick application of paint. He captures the sitter in a frontal pose against a neutral background, emphasizing her facial features and expression. Thiebaud’s attention to detail is notable in the rendering of Porter’s face, which exhibits a sense of realism and three-dimensionality. The painting showcases Thiebaud’s early exploration of form, light, and color. As his focus shifted towards other subjects, his output of portraits became less frequent, making these early works relatively scarce.


Wayne Thiebaud, <em>Country City</em>.
Wayne Thiebaud (American, 1920–2021), Country City, 1988, etching and aquatint in colors, 21.5″ x 31.75″.
Sold: $27,500

Thiebaud had a special ability of infusing everyday subjects and settings with vitality and personality, showcasing his skill as a painter. His unique approach to capturing the essence of his subjects through rich brushwork and intense hues makes Thiebaud’s work so exciting for artists and collectors to this day.


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