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BP Portrait Award shortlist announced by National Portrait Gallery

The winner will be announced in June.

The National Portrait Gallery has announced its shortlist for the BP Portrait Award 2017, which features an all-female line-up of sitters.

Benjamin Sullivan, Thomas Ehretsmann, and Antony Williams are in contention for the prestigious first prize, which carries with it a sum of £30,000 for the winning entry, as well as a gallery commission worth £5,000.

Sullivan’s portrait is titled Breech! and captures his wife Virginia breastfeeding their eight-month-old daughter, Edith. Ehretsmann’s Double Portrait shows his wife Caroline at eight months pregnant on a walk in the park. Williams has painted Emma, which shows a model who has sat for him for the past 11 years and become a close friend.

The winner of the second prize will receive £10,000 and the third prize offers £8,000, with the results announced on June 20.

Entrants were invited to upload a photo of their portrait to the award website for judges to select which works they would like to see in person and then 53 were chosen to make up the BP Portrait Award 2017 exhibition, which was whittled down to the shortlist of three.

All three artists have been chosen previously for BP Portrait Award exhibitions, but this is the first time Ehretsmann and Williams have been shortlisted for first prize. Sullivan won third prize last year for Hugo, his portrait of the poet Hugo Williams.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, chair of the judges and director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, said: “It is always an enormous privilege to chair the judging panel of the BP Portrait Award and to see at first hand the extraordinary depth and breadth of contemporary portrait painting internationally.

“I am delighted with this year’s shortlist and the final selection of works for the exhibition, all of which provoked an immediate response from the judges, whether that be a reaction to the skill displayed by a particular artist, or a more visceral connection with the sitter, subject matter or the mood conveyed.”

There were 2,580 entries in total from 87 countries, including 1,214 portraits from the UK.

A BP Travel Award 2017 winner will be chosen from the 53 exhibited works, an annual award of £6,000 which allows artists to experience working in a different environment on a project related to portraiture and then show the work in the following year’s exhibition.

A separate competition, the BP Young Artist Award, will give £7,000 to an artist aged between 18 and 30.

The exhibition, which will also tour to Exeter, Edinburgh and Sunderland, can be seen from June 22 to September 24 at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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