ARTS (Painting & Sculpt)

Archibald Prize
Australia Crest

Annual prize, currently $35,000, to the winner of a portrait painting competition judged by the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. The prize was founded in 1921 by the estate of John Feltham Archibald , publisher of The Bulletin magazine.

Sir William Dargie has won the prize a record 8 times, closely followed by William McInnes with 7 awards.

Controversy reigned when legal action was taken to stop the award of the prize to William Dobell in 1943. His portrait of fellow artist Joshua Smith was considered by some to be a caricature rather than a portrait. The litigants lost after two years of court wrangling. The portrait was later destroyed in a fire.

In 1975 John Bloomfield's portrait of Tim Burstall was disqualified after winning when it became known the portrait was painted from a photograph and not from life as the rules of the competition set out.

Archibald - Patrick White 1962 winner Louis Kahan
Archibald - Patrick White 1962 winner Louis Kahan


The winner from some 600 entries is to be announced on 19th March. The 1999 entries include portaits of Deborah Mailman, Poppy King and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley.

Two days beforehand, the 600 will be culled to a shortlist of around 30 and these 30 will hang in judgement in the Archibald exhibition until high noon on the friday when gallery director Edmund Capon introduces the president of the trustees, David Gonski, to announce the winner.

Archibald Prize - winner 1991-2 Bryan Westwood
Archibald Prize - winner 1991-2 Bryan Westwood


Past winners include portraits of Banjo Paterson, Patrick White and Paul Keating.

Archibald 1999 Euan Macleod self portrait
Archibald 1999 Euan Macleod self portrait


David Boyd, brother of Arthur Boyd, is contemplating entering in 2000 with a portrait of lawyer Geoffrey Robertson. He said an illustrious subject will often win the prize for the artist, rather than the quality of the painting itself. But once won, the artist is on the map.

Lewis Miller, winner in 1998, was asked to speak at so many functions after he won that he disconnected his answering machine.

The '99 winner is a Kiwi, Euan Macleod, with his self portrait Head Like A Hole.

The Dobell Prize for drawing went to David Fairbairn. The Sulman Prize for subject painting, genre painting or mural went to Anne Wallace. The Wynne Prize for landscape painting or figure sculpture went to Gloria Petyarre. Last, but not least, the Trustees' Watercolour Prize went to Noel McKenna.


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