Thursday, November 22, 2012

Self - a new £20,000 prize for self portraiture

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters today formally launched a brand new £20,000 prize called SELF - to be awarded for the best self-portrait submitted to their Annual Exhibition.

This post highlights who can enter what and how - within the content of the Call for Entries for the Annual Exhibition and the other prizes also on offer.

I'm also adding in the odd interesting self-portrait by non-members!

About SELF - a new prize for self-portraiture
The brand new SELF prize pushes the boundaries of self-representation in painting, printing and drawing, seeking submissions of original and adventurous self-portraits. Free from the constraints of commissioned portrait painting, the self-portrait does not have to flatter the sitter, pay a model, play slave to time or money, nor reflect a likeness in the literal sense; the artist is at liberty to push the boundaries and experiment.

Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting (1638-9)
by Artemisia Gentileschi
SELF - Who can enter?

  • Anybody - there are no stated constraints on who can enter, what age you need to be or where you should live and/or work.  Which means it's open to all international artists as well as UK based artists.
Frédéric Bazille 004
Self-portrait. (1865-66) Frédéric Bazille
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Location: Art Institute of Chicago

SELF - What can be entered?

You can check out the calibre of portraits which get selected for this exhibition by reviewing my blog posts from previous years at the end of this post.  They contain images of works hung in the exhibition - and those selected as prizewinners
  • Subject: Self-portrait.  It seems to me there's a fairly hefty hint in the Call for Entries that this is a prize which is looking for innovation as well as quality in self-portraiture.
‘SELF’ Pushing the boundaries of self representation in painting and drawing.
  • Acceptable Media: oil, watercolour, acrylic, pastel, graphite, any dry medium, original prints.  (Note it does not indicate that sculpture is acceptable however it also doesn't say that only 2D work is accepted and I can think of media used by sculptors which is dry!)
  • Size constraints: The works must not exceed 2.4m in any direction. (2D or 3D?).  That's 94 inches for those still working in Imperial measurements.
  • Number of entries: no limit stated although there's a limit of three entries to the Annual Exhibition
Egon Schiele 079
Self-Portrait with Chinese lantern fruits (1912) by Egon Schiele 
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

SELF - How to Enter

There are two stages to selection.  The first stage is online only.  The second stage involves getting the framed work to London for the final selection process with the self-portrait physically  in front of the selectors.
  • Mode of Entry: Online applications ONLY Apply online now
  • Website for entries: Enter now at
  • Entry fee
    • Full Entry Fee: £12 per artwork.
    • Age Concession Price (for those aged 35 years or less): £6 per artwork. 
  • Deadline for Entries: 21 February 2013
  • Selection: Notification of Stage 1 selection and progression to Stage 2 will be posted online Thursday 28 February (noon) at
  • Receiving Days: Works which are pre-selected must be brought in on the Receiving days for actual selection. which are the same as our annual exhibition receiving days:Friday 15 & Saturday 16 March (10am – 5pm) at 17 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5BD

Selvportræt, 1902 - Michael Ancher
Self Portrait by Michael Ancher
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

RSPP Annual Exhibition

The Annual Exhibition of the prestigious Royal Society of Portrait Painters comprises a range of portraits in various media selected from the works submitted to the open-entry alongside work its our eminent members.

In 2012, ninety eight non-member artists were selected from the open-entry

In 2013, the Annual Exhibition will be held, as usual, at the Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1Y 5BD between 9 – 24 May 2013.

It will include a SELF exhibition of selected work (from members and non-members of the RSPP)

Other Prizes

It's well worth taking some time to study the entry requirements as the Society also awards a number of other major prizes each year to entries to the annual exhibition - and thought they tend to go to members this is by no means a foregone conclusion.
  • The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture: £10,000 plus the Society’s Gold Medal awarded for the most distinguished painting in the Society’s annual exhibition.
  • The de Laszlo Foundation Prize: £3,000 plus a Silver Medal for the most outstanding portrait by an artist aged 35 years or under.
  • The Prince of Wales’s Award for Portrait Drawing: £2,000 and framed certificate for a portrait in any recognised drawing medium.
  • The Changing Faces Commission Prize: £2,000 commission to produce a portrait of a person with a disfigurement for the Changing Faces collection. The Changing Faces Prize is awarded to the artist whose portrait best conveys the energy of their subject, the directness of their gaze and an attitude that exudes openness and confidence.
How to enter the Annual Exhibition

The arrangements are essentially the same as for the SELF Prize.  Read this page on the Mall Galleries website or see the 2013 Call for Entries Leaflet (pdf) for more details.  The only real difference is that it is essential to do an online entry for the Self Prize, whereas you are requested to do so for the rest of the entries - which reduces costs for the artist if not selected.

Links: Royal Society of Portrait Painters website

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