National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award 2012 – Call for entries

The National Portrait Gallery is delighted to announce the Call for Entries for the BP Portrait Award 2012, the world’s most prestigious open competition for portrait painting. Entry forms are now available at and the closing date for entries is Monday 13 February 2012.

Holly by Louis Smith © Louis Smith

The Portrait Award, now in its thirty-third year at the National Portrait Gallery and twenty-third year of sponsorship by BP, is an annual event aimed at encouraging artists to focus upon and develop portraiture in their work.

The BP Portrait Award 2012 exhibition will run at the National Portrait Gallery from 21 June to 23 September 2012.

The BP Portrait Award is open to all artists over the age of 18, and provides an important platform for portrait painters. In 2011, 2,372 artists submitted their work and the exhibition, featured 55 paintings. Seen by over 340,000 people, the BP Portrait Award 2011 had the highest ever visitor figures for an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

A cash award of £25,000 will go to the First Prize winner who will receive, at the judges’ discretion, a commission worth £4,000 (to be agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist).

Recent National Portrait Gallery commissions by BP Portrait Award first-prize-winning artists include novelist V. S. Naipaul by Paul Emsley (BP Portrait Award 2007 winner), and Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh by Dean Marsh (BP Portrait Award 2005 winner). Many artists who have had their work exhibited have gained commissions as a result of the considerable interest in the BP Portrait Award and the resulting exhibition.

The prize winners and exhibition will be selected by a judging panel chaired by Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery. All 2012 exhibitors will be eligible to submit a proposal for the BP Travel Award. The aim of the Award is to provide the opportunity for an artist to experience working in a different environment, in Britain or abroad, on a project related to portraiture.

Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘The quality of the entries and the range of styles in 2011 was outstanding. I look forward to the BP Portrait Award 2012, and thank BP for their continuing support.’

Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP, says: “We are delighted to continue our support of the BP Portrait Award, and look forward to what we expect to be another year of fantastic entries.”

An 80-page catalogue featuring all the selected artists, including an essay by a leading author, will accompany the exhibition. –

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