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Experience ‘the best in contemporary portraiture’ and commission your own

Thurs 4th to Sat 13th May 2023, Mall Galleries, London

Online preview at from Thursday 20 April


Exhibition is available to view at Mall Galleries from

Thursday 4 May, 10am to 5pm daily until Saturday 13 May

–        Many portraits are for sale

–        Visitors can commission their own portrait by exhibiting artists

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters has a new President (as of last year), painter Anthony Connolly PRP. Of this year’s Annual Exhibition, Anthony said; “Portraiture is not just for the titled, the dons and the captains of industry. Portraiture is made by thousands of painters about all kinds of people; subjects represent every morsel of contemporary society. That balance between the person painted and the stuff of paint is just a huge and enduring fascination. This year’s Annual Exhibition reveals portraiture in the UK to be well and truly ‘bubbling,’ and gives air to a wide variety of painters – without compromising standards.”

News angles tied to this year’s Annual Exhibition


There are several celebrity portraits in this year’s Annual Exhibition. These include portraits of actor Richard E. Grant, newsreader and journalist Clive Myrie, musician William Ellis and a portrait of actress T’Nia Miller…among others.

2. The resurgence of the portrait as an art form – and particularly the unleashing of ‘the painter’s portrait’

Catherine by Daniel Shadbolt

Submissions to the Annual Exhibition are growing year on year. This year, there were almost 3,500 entries compared to 2,800 last year. Historically, portraiture has been very associated and entangled with privilege, and this might be one reason why it increasingly became less relevant in the art world. But the RP is seeing a sea change and a resurgence of portraiture as an art form. Anthony Connolly PRP said; “Portrait painting is alive and kicking. It is skateboarding, surfing and untethered. It has never been more energised.” There is also a move away from hyperrealism, from portraits which look like photographs, towards ‘the painter’s portrait’ – portraits painted from life which represent the sitter without compromising the artist’s unique vision, process or style. This is allowing for more painterly portraits, braver interpretations of the genre and is opening the door to artists who would not traditionally be associated with portraits. Anthony Connolly said; “Portraiture is a commissioned-based art from and, as such, the artist is always controlled to a greater or lesser extent by the demands of their client. But we are seeing a greater understanding and appreciation amongst clients of the power of freeing the artist and allowing them to create artwork with the same sincerity they would have with other subjects. Portraits created in this way, portraits which are truly ‘the painter’s portrait,’ will be the ones that stand the test of time and will be seen as masterpieces in the future. Not those that have been hemmed-in by patronage.”

3. Clothing

The Wisdom by Varvara

Every year, the RP Award recognises a portrait which best represents its chosen annual theme. The theme changes every year, to encourage artists to think around the idea of portraiture and explore different aspects of the genre. This year, the selected theme is ‘clothing,’ with many of the portraits in this year’s Annual Exhibition showing vital and interesting interpretations.

4. Portrait commissions – and the RP’s most commissioned member

Gaia by Anna Laurin

Visitors to the Annual Exhibition can buy many of the portraits on display (both in person and online) but, perhaps more interestingly, can commission their own. This means the show provides a showcase of both established RP members and Europe’s most exciting and up-and-coming portraiture artists, giving visitors a unique overview of a broad range of styles and interpretations. A representative from the RP’s commissioning service will be at the Annual Exhibition for one-to-one consultations, and the service is also available online.

Frances Bell is the RP’s most frequently commissioned portrait artist and will be showing two paintings in this year’s Annual Exhibition – ‘the end of lockdown’ (right) and ‘Clemmie and Hiccup.’ The Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ President Anthony Connolly PRP will also be exhibiting two paintings at the Annual Exhibition, including ‘Isabella’ (above.)

The William Lock Portrait Prize and other exhibition awards – British art historian, Andrew Graham-Dixon, announcing the winner and presenting the prizes on Wednesday 3rd May 2023

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters is committed to supporting the ongoing tradition of portraiture in the UK. The Annual Exhibition is just one of the ways the society supports up-and-coming portrait painters, providing a high-profile gallery showcase and offering up to £40,000 in awards for selected artists. The William Lock Portrait Prize awards £20,000 to the most timeless portrait in the Annual Exhibition, which has a real feeling for paint and its aesthetic potential. The winning artist will be announced on the morning of Wednesday 3rd May 2023 with British art historian Andrew Graham Dixon opening the exhibition and presenting the prizes.

The other Annual Exhibition awards include.

·        The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture: £10,000 plus the Society’s Gold Medal awarded for the most distinguished portrait in the Society’s annual exhibition

·        The RP Award: £2,000 will be awarded to the artist whose work best represents the year’s chosen theme – which for 2023 is ‘Clothing’

·        The RP Prize for the Best Small Portrait: A prize of £2,000 for the best small portrait in the exhibition, measuring not more than 38 x 30.5 cm (15 x 12 inches) unframed

·        The de Laszlo Foundation Award: £3,000 plus a Silver Medal for the most outstanding portrait by an artist aged 35 years or under

·        The Smallwood Architects Prize: £1,000 – prize inaugurated in 2016, is awarded for a portrait in which architectural or interior features play an important part

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ Annual Exhibition: Royal Society of Portrait Painters | Annual Exhibition 2022 | Mall Galleries

Closed on Saturday 6 May for the Royal Coronation: Late night opening, until 8pm, on Thursday 4 May & Wednesday 10 May

For more information, please visit https://www.mallgalleries.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/royal-society-portrait-painters-annual-exhibition-2023