- The Gallery’s celebrated painting competition returns for its forty-second year thanks to the support of new headline sponsor, Herbert Smith Freehills.
- Entries of painted portraits to the Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award are welcome from artists aged eighteen and over until Tuesday 16 January 2024.
- Shortlisted works will form part of the Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award exhibition and will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery from 11 July to 27 October 2024.
Today, the National Portrait Gallery announces the return of its annual painting competition, the Portrait Award, thanks to support from new headline sponsor, Herbert Smith Freehills. Celebrating the 42nd edition of the prestigious competition, the first Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award will represent the very best in contemporary portraiture, with entries open from 13 November 2023 to 16 January 2024, to all artists aged eighteen and over.
This inaugural year of sponsorship builds on 20 years of support from Herbert Smith Freehills, longstanding partner of the National Portrait Gallery. Since 2004, the international law firm has supported exhibitions, seasons and the Gallery’s 150th anniversary, as well as the Gallery’s major transformation project, Inspiring People, as Reopening Partner. As sponsor of the Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award, the firm continue their support of the Gallery’s new chapter, ensuring free access to the exhibition.
The Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award is one of the most important platforms for portrait painters. The highly successful competition aims to encourage artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work. Since its inception, the competition has attracted over 40,000 entries from more than 100 countries and the exhibition has been seen by over 6 million people. It has a first prize of £35,000, making it one of the largest for any global arts competition. The second prize winner receives £12,000 and a third prize of £10,000 is also awarded. The Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award will also include a Young Artist Award, which will see a prize of £9,000 awarded to a selected entrant, aged between 18 and 30, profiling their talent and supporting career development.
Artists can submit their painted portraits to the Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award via competitions.npg.org.uk between 13 November 2023 and 16 January 2024. Full competition rules and guidance for digital submission can be found online. The Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award exhibition will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery from 11 July until 27 October 2024.
“Our prestigious painting competition and associated exhibition have always held a special place at the National Portrait Gallery, so I am delighted to see their return, thanks to the generous support of new headline sponsor, Herbert Smith Freehills. The new Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award will continue to showcase the best in contemporary portrait painting, and provide opportunities for a new generation of talented portraitists. I look forward to seeing the shortlisted works on the walls of our newly renovated galleries.”
Director, National Portrait Gallery
“Art has long been recognised for its power to connect and its ability to reflect insights from diverse perspectives. That means embracing differences and benefiting from the unique angles that others can bring to an individual’s world view. It’s an approach which matches the values we hold close and so we’re delighted to continue – and enhance – our longstanding relationship with the National Portrait Gallery. Our hope is that the Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award shines a light on outstanding new talent and enables a new generation of artists to emerge.”
Chief Executive Officer, Herbert Smith Freehills