The National Portrait Gallery’s long standing painting competition has returned under new sponsorship.

Formerly known as the BP Portrait Award, this year’s painting competition is sponsored by ​​international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

The company has previously supported the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibitions, seasons and the Gallery’s 150th anniversary, as well as the Gallery’s transformation project, Inspiring People, as Reopening Partner.

The competition, now in its forty-second year, will be known as the Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award.

Last year the National Portrait Gallery and BP together confirmed that sponsorship of the Portrait Award would not continue, ending a more than 30-year partnership.

The Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award competition opens to painters aged 18 and over from 16 January 2024. Shortlisted works will form part of the Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award exhibition and will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery from 11 July to 27 October 2024.

National Portrait Gallery and BP jointly end awards partnership

It has a first prize of £35,000, a second prize of £12,000 and a third prize of £10,000. The 2024 award will also include a Young Artist Award, which will see a prize of £9,000 awarded to a selected entrant, aged between 18 and 30.

Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, said the newly named Portrait Award “will continue to showcase the best in contemporary portrait painting, and provide opportunities for a new generation of talented portraitists. I look forward to seeing the shortlisted works on the walls of our newly renovated galleries.”

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