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The Archibald Prize

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The Archibald Prize was the first major prize for portraiture in Australian art and is awarded annually to the best portrait, ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’.


This open competition is judged by the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. Finalists are displayed in an exhibition at the Gallery (although in the early years all entrants were hung). Although it is a non-acquisitive prize, several of the entries are now part of the Gallery’s collection.


The Archibald Prize was first awarded in 1921. In establishing the prize, JF Archibald’s aim was to foster portraiture as well as support artists and perpetuate the memory of great Australians. Over the years some of Australia’s most prominent artists have entered and the subjects have been equally celebrated in their fields.

The Archibald Prize has been awarded annually since 1921 and represents two things:

  • The first is the grand tradition it embodies, the highs and lows of its 97 years in the limelight, where a win is an accolade few painters would turn down.


  • The second is the hope that the winner might represent some kind of positive change in contemporary art; a recognition of talent and vision, but also a celebration of a deserving subject.




The Art Gallery of New South Wales is located a short 10 minute stroll from Ovolo Woolloomooloo. Bookings at