New £20k portrait prize launched in bumper year for exhibition

A new prize for portraiture worth £20,000 is being launched at the annual Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.

The William Lock Portrait Prize for the Most Timeless Picture will be won by the portrait with “a real feeling for paint and its aesthetic potential” in the exhibition, opening on May 6 and running to May 15.

“This is the inaugural year, and the rather long description, is intended to remind us that some of the best pictures ever painted are portraits, and that portrait painting is more than mere representation” said the society’s president Richard Foster.

Possibly owing to the absence of the BP Portrait of the Year this time, submission to the society’s exhibition were up 76% on last year, with more than 4,400 works vying for space.

Other prizes awarded are the £10,000 Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture, the Prince of Wales’s Award for Portrait Drawing, the Burke’s Peerage Foundation Award for Classically Inspired Portraiture, the de Laszlo Foundation Award and the Smallwood Prize for contextual portraiture.

Pictured is Saied Dai’s A Portrait of the Artist’s Wife from the exhibition.


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