The National Portrait Gallery has announced details of the four shortlisted artists and their work, with the winner being announced on the 10th June.

Quo Vardis? by Massimiliano Pironti, 2018 © Massimiliano Pironti.

The four shortlisted portraits were selected from  2,538 entries from 84 countries, submitted for judging anonymously by a panel which included writer and presenter Gaylene Gould, artist Gary Hume and curator Zoé Whitley. The 2019 Portrait Award is in its 40th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 30th year of sponsorship by BP.

Those nominated for first prize this year includes Emma Hopkins’ portrait of her friend Sophie and her pet dog Carla, Sophie and CarlaQuo Vardis? by Massimiliano Pironti, which shows the artist’s 95 year old grandmother Vincenza Pesoli in her kitchen; Carl-Martin Sandvold’s self-portrait, The Crown, and Charlie Schaffer’s portrait of his close friend, Imara in her Winter Coat. This is the first time that any of these artists have been shortlisted for First Prize in the BP Portrait Award and is the first time Emma Hopkins, Carl-Martin Sandvold and Charlie Schaffer have entered the competition. Massimiliano Pironti was selected in 2018 where he exhibited a painting of a fellow dancer.

Celebrating the best portrait painters, the Portrait Award has a first prize of £35,000. The winner also receives, at the Gallery’s discretion, a commission worth £7,000 (agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist). The second prize winner receives £12,000 and a third prize of £10,000 is also awarded. The BP Young Artist Award, with a prize of £9,000 goes to one selected artist aged between 18 and 30.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Chair of the Judges and Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: “Each year, the BP Portrait Award showcases exceptional works of contemporary painted portraiture and this year’s exhibition, which marks thirty years of BP sponsorship, is no different. The Award has become one of the most prestigious portrait prizes internationally and the works selected represent some of the best examples of the genre. My fellow judges and I assessed the paintings in terms of their technique, quality and what they disclose of the artist’s own approach to the subject and how this resonates with the viewer. My congratulations to this year’s shortlisted artists for their exceptional and inspiring works.”

The shortlisted artists for the prize and the artists whose work is to be included in the BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition were selected by a judging panel chaired by Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery. To enter, artists were invited to upload a photograph of their finished painting to the BP Portrait Award website, which were considered by the judges in the first round of the competition. 290 entrants were successful in this round and invited to hand-deliver or courier their work to a venue in London for the second round of judging. From this 44 works were selected for the BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition.

The BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition will run at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from Thursday 13th June to Sunday 20th October 2019.