BP_PortraitAWD_stats.jpgThe BP Portrait Award is arguably one of the most prestigious art in the art world calendar. This annual portrait competition takes place at London's National Portrait Gallery. The competition began in 1980 and sponsorship was later taken over by British Petroleum in 1989. A £30,000 prize is up for grabs, plus a commission. Thus attracting about 2000 artists each year for hopeful inclusion in the (usually) 55 selected artworks of the exhibition. Visitors to the exhibition are also able to vote for their favourite portrait and each year sees a ‘Visitors Choice’ awarded to the public's preferred artist.

The following infographic is based on the BP Portrait Awards from 2008 to 2018. Maybe one day I’ll go back to 1980 when it began. . . when I have the time.

I was just curious to know if it leaned a certain way, a general impression was that not much other than oil paintings seem to win but I looked into style, size and subject matter, among others, that may be useful to artists thinking of entering or those just curious.__

The phrase Winners refers to those that achieved 1st place and the prize money. I have not included second or third placed artists.
The Size graphic represents the smallest, largest and average size from past exhibitions, the paintings represented as squares in proportion to each other to make comparison easier.
Subject is based on common subject found in the paintings. The phrase 'child' means either a child is a subject or is a young child of the artist. 'other family member' may relate to an older child of the artist. (note: I assumed one portrait was of a 'stranger' as I was unable to get details of the subjects relationship to the artist, but it seemed most likely.)
Formal Training refers to those with some education and training and do not refer to themselves as self taught.
The phrase Previous Selection refers to those artists who have entered the competition and have had works selected and exhibited in the portrait exhibition in years previous to their winning entry
The Average Age section is a rough calculation to the nearest year of their life when the artist won the award.
The Monochrome item was about full colour versus single colour/black & white images.
The Nationality section shows by font size in what proportion a nationality has won the prize.
Style is a little subjective but I placed each portrait somewhere on a spectrum that ranged from abstract and barely recognizable as a face, to hyper realistic in order to establish a value to average out.
The Medium section has only three substances as these are the only permitted mediums in the exhibition.

I also included winners of the Visitors Choice award for comparison in the ‘Subject’ and ‘Style’ category just to see if judges and the public vote differently.


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