Saturday, May 08, 2021

Virtual Tour and Award Winners: Royal Society of Portrait Painters 130th Annual Exhibition

I wasn't at the opening day of the 130th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters - because I was getting my second Pfizer vaccination! (I'm planning to go Monday or Tuesday next week.)

However, you and I can take a look at the exhibition right now via 

We can also view the portraits by the artists who have been awarded prizes and awards in 2021- and these are listed below - with links to both the portraits and artists' websites. 

It's interesting to note how many portraits are self-portraits or portraits of members of the family - a situation which I guess has confronted a lot of portrait painters this year.

Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition2021: Award winners 

    William Lock Portrait Prize: Frances Bell RP - for Self Portrait 

    £20,000 for the most timeless portrait with a real feeling for paint and its aesthetic potential. 
    Self Portrait by Frances Bell

    I've long been a supporter of Frances Bell whose style works incredibly well for certain sitters - particularly children and women. Besides being a masterful draughtsperson - in terms of accuracy and representation of her subject - I love her very painterly and fluid use of oil and brushwork. (She also paints great landscapes!)

    Last year the same self-portrait was also selected as a finalist among another 22 paintings, from 2600 entries for the Portrait Society of America's Annual Exhibition in 2020.

    Frances Bell is a full time professional portrait and landscape painter. She has shown her paintings in numerous exhibitions including the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition - where she has shown since 2005; the BP Portrait Award; and annual exhibitions of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters; the Royal Society of British Artists; the Royal Society of Marine Artists; The Society of Wildlife Artists, the Society of Women Artists. 

    She makes some very interesting comments about the process of creating a self-portrait in this video (below). I'm sure very many portrait painters will recognise and empathise with what she has to say


      TIP FOR ARTISTS: Remember to film videos for websites in landscape format - not portrait - which somehow seems very ironic to me! :) 

        The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture - Saied Dai RP NEAC for Portrait of the Artist's Wife

        £10,000 plus the Society’s Gold Medal awarded for the most distinguished portrait in the Society’s annual exhibition. 

        Saied Dai has a unique style and I can always recognise his paintings on the wall before I've looked at the catalogue. He's a figurative Artist who both lives and works in Bath.

        His award is for a portrait of his wife, the artist Charlotte Sorapure - whose paintings I also like a lot!

        He trained at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and was made a member of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 2004 and The New English Art Club in 2009. He has exhibited widely. He paints on a gesso panel and describes how he works in the video below.


          The RP Award: Phoebe Dickinson for Alethea

          £2,000 awarded to the artist whose work best represents the year's chosen theme - which for 2021 is 'Childhood'. The judges looked for the most interesting and engaging interpretation of the idea of 'childhood' within the parameters of portraiture. 

          This is an artist whose work I have commented on in the past. She's adept at painting children and ha also made the list of the RP's top portrait painters - in terms of commissions - in the past (see Top 10 portrait painters - and a commissions checklist)
          She trained at: Charles H Cecil Studios, Florence Italy, Lavender Hill Studios, London, The Prince’s Drawing School and The Heatherley School of Fine Art.  She has studios in London and Gloucestershire. Appeared on Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the year in 2013. She has painting commissions documenting the making of Downton Abbey. Extensive press coverage.

          The RP Prize for the Best Small Portrait: Will Calver for Self Portrait in Hat

          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.
          Will Calver is a painter living and working in the Kentish countryside. Like many portrait painters he also paints still life - with an aim of conveying a sense of stillness and subtle presence. However, this appears to his main interest so to win a prize for painting the best small portrait is exceptional.

          He did his Foundation and a BA in Fine Art at Falmouth and graduated in 2019.

          The de Laszlo Foundation Award: Marco Bizzarri for Silente I

          £3,000 plus a Silver Medal for the most outstanding portrait by an artist aged 35 years or under.
          He comments
          “Silente I” is a large-format work painted in acrylic on canvas. The way the face is painted allows the image to be seen just from the distance, because if you look at the painting closely, you can only see stains

          The Prince of Wales's Award for Portrait Drawing: Mantas Poderys for Self Portrait at the Age of 28

          £2,000 and framed certificate for a portrait in any recognised drawing medium.
          Mantas Poderas was born in 1990 in Kaunas, Lithuania. He's a portrait painter based in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland. He specializes in realistic drawings and oil paintings.
          As well as winning this prestigious portrait drawing prize, he was also highly commended for the Burke's Peerage Foundation Prize. 
          Mantas also won the Young Artist of the Year KPMG award with the same drawing at the 139th Royal Ulster Academy annual show, RUA, Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2020.  The Arts Council of Northern Ireland lent the drawing for the RP exhibition.

          He studied art and design at North West Regional College in Derry/ Londonderry and then for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.


          Burke's Peerage Foundation Award: Rupert Alexander for Jack Hudleston

          The Burke’s Peerage Foundation Award, established by its founders William Bortrick and Mark Ayre in 2015, is presented for Classically Inspired Portraiture in the RP Annual Exhibition. It is presented each year with a certificate and a cheque for £2,000.

          Rupert Alexander studied at Chelsea College of Art, the Florence Academy of Art and Charles H. Cecil Studios.

          He has painted the portraits of many prominent figures in Britain. At the age of 23, he painted HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince of Wales for the Royal Warrant Holders Association to become the youngest artist to paint the British Royal Family since the 18th Century.

          • Website:

          Smallwood Architects Prize: Sandra Kuck - Portrait through a Prism

          £1,000 for a portrait in which architectural or interior features play an important part.

          I featured one of her artworks in my review of this exhibition last year.

          • Website: ?

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