BP Portrait Award

The BP Portrait Award is an annual portraiture competition held at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England. It is the successor to the John Player Portrait Award.

British Petroleum took over sponsorship of the competition in 1989 from John Player & Sons, a tobacco company, and has sponsored it since. The presence of both sponsors has triggered protests, with the group Art Not Oil (part of the international Rising Tide network) being responsible for most of those against BP.

The exhibition opens in June each year and runs until September. First prize is typically £25,000. In the early years of the century, the prize went up from £5,000, and its catchment area was gradually extended from residents of the UK and is now unrestricted.The BP Portrait Award shows the very best in contemporary portrait painting from around the world. For thirty-three years the exhibition has presented outstanding and innovative new work in a variety of styles and approaches, and it continues to be a highlight of the annual art calendar. From informal and personal studies of friends and family, to revealing paintings of famous faces, this year’s exhibition features fifty-five works selected from 2,187 international and local entries and many winners have gone on to become highly collectible. In spite of its traditional and non-headline-grabbing qualities, it has been highly popular with the general public, though in recent years there has been some controversy over the choice of winners.

Read more about BP Portrait AwardFormer Winners, Selected Works, BP Visitor Choice

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