The Portrait Award, sponsored by BP, is an annual competition aimed at encouraging artists to focus upon and develop the theme of portraiture in their work. The competition is open to everyone aged 18 and over, in recognition of the outstanding and innovative work currently being produced by artists of all ages working in portraiture.

With a substantial first-prize of £25,000 the exhibition has proved the launch pad for the careers of a number of successful portrait artists.

The entire competition is judged, on an equal and anonymous basis, from original paintings. An exhibition is then created from a selection of the entries. Since 1990 the Award has become the foremost portrait of its kind. In 2007, a record 1,870 artists submitted their work and the exhibition, which featured sixty paintings, was seen by over 195,000 people in London alone, an indication of the continuing popularity of the competition.

Many artists who have had their work exhibited have gained commissions as a result of the considerable interest in the Portrait Award and the resulting exhibition. Recent winners and their commissions include Stuart Pearson Wright (2001) who painted J.K. Rowling, Catherine Goodman (2002) who painted Dame Cicely Saunders and Charlotte Harris (2003) who painted Dame Vivien Duffield.

BP Travel Award

All artists selected for the exhibition 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 which will then be shown as part of the BP Portrait Award exhibition and tour the following year.

BP Young Artist Award

Our commitment to the work of young artists continues with the inclusion of a special award for entrants aged between 18 and 30. All entrants from this age group will automatically be considered for both the BP Young Artist Award and the BP Portrait Award but an individual cannot win both.

BP Visitor Choice

Each year, the exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to judge for themselves which portrait they think is the best. In 2007, over 5,500 people registered their vote, with Hynec Martinec’s Zuzana in the Paris Studio proving the most popular overall.

More information can be found on http://www.npg.org.uk/live/bpmenu.asp