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Call for entries now open as National Portrait Gallery marks 30 years of the bp Portrait Award

27 November 2018
The National Portrait Gallery invites entries for the BP Portrait Award 2019, as it enters its 30th year of sponsorship. The prize money for the Award currently stands at one of the largest for any global arts competitions, with first prize being £35,000, second prize £12,000; third prize £10,000; the BP Young Artist Award, awarded to one selected artist aged between 18 and 30, £9,000, and the BP Travel Award £8,000

To enter, artists are invited to upload a photograph of their finished painting to the BP Portrait Award website, which will be viewed anonymously by the judges in the first round of the competition. The entrants who are successful in this round will then be invited to hand-deliver or courier their work to a venue in London for the second round of judging and final exhibition selection.


Artists can enter at npg.org.uk/bp  between now and 21 January 2019. Full competition rules and guidance for digital submission can be found online. The BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition will run at the National Portrait Gallery from 13 June to 20 October 2019.

2019 will mark the Portrait Award’s 40th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 30th year of sponsorship by BP. This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work. The increasingly popular competition has a huge international reach, with the BP Portrait Award 2018 receiving 2,667 entries from 88 countries. The exhibition, which featured 48 paintings, was seen by 275,295 people at the National Portrait Gallery.


The BP Portrait Award is one of the most important platforms for portrait painters. The winner also receives, at the Gallery’s discretion, a commission worth £7,000 (agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist). All 2019 exhibitors will be eligible to submit a proposal for the BP Travel Award 2019. 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 portraits. The artist chosen as the winner of the Travel Award will receive £8,000.


The current BP Portrait Award 2018 exhibition tours to Wolverhampton Art Gallery (13 October – 30 November 2018), the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (15 Dec 2018 - 10 March 2019) and Winchester Discovery Centre (30 March – 26 June 2019).


First prize was won by London based artist, Miriam Escofet for An Angel at my Table, a portrait depicting Escofet’s elderly mother sat at her kitchen table surrounded by tea crockery. Second prize went to American painter, Felicia Forte, for Time Traveller, Matthew Napping, a portrait showing Forte’s sweetheart Matthew DeJong asleep on a sweltering summer’s day in Detroit. Third prize went to Chinese artist, Zhu Tongyao for his portrait Simone, a portrait of a neighbour’s child he painted during a stay in Italy.


The BP Young Artist Award for the work of a selected entrant aged between 18 and 30 has been won by 28 year old UK artist Ania Hobson for A Portrait of two Female Painters, a double portrait of the artist with her sister in law Stevie Dix. The winner of the BP Travel Award 2018 was Robert Seidel for his proposal to travel along the route of the river Danube by train, boat and bike to connect with people and make portraits in the regions through which the river passes.



Entrants can order a special edition of the 2019 exhibition catalogue, featuring all the selected artists, and a note of thanks from the Director of the National Portrait Gallery. The special edition is only available to entrants and will not be available through the Gallery shops or online.


Notes to editors

BP support for UK Arts & Culture: In the UK, BP is a major supporter of the arts with a programme that spans over 50 years. BP’s investment in long term partnerships with the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, and the Royal Shakespeare Company represent one of the most significant long-term corporate investments in UK arts and culture www.bp.com/arts


  • This international 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.
  • The best way to register your entry for the BP Portrait Award 2019 is online at npg.org.uk/bp   
  • Full competition rules, collection/delivery points and details of the exhibition tour can be found online at npg.org.uk/bp  
  • Closing date for registration: 21 January 2019
  • First Prize: A cash award of £35,000, plus, at the judges’ discretion, a commission worth £7,000, to be agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist.
  • Second Prize: £12,000
  • Third Prize: £10,000
  • BP Young Artist Award: £9,000
  • BP Travel Award 2019: £8,000
  • All entrants aged between 18 and 30 will automatically be considered for both the BP Young Artist Award and the BP Portrait Award, but an individual cannot win both.
  • The entry fee is £40.

For further press information and image requests please contact: Billy Ward, communications assistant, National Portrait Gallery Email:bward@npg.org.uk


National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE.

Opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm)

Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10am – 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm)

Nearest Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross

Recorded information: 020 7312 2463  General information: 020 7306 0055  Website: npg.org.uk