The Royal Society of Portrait Painters and Mall Galleries are delighted to announce the Prizes & Awards from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2020. 

Congratulations to all artists who have been awarded prizes by our generous prize givers. 

The exhibition is open at Mall Galleries until Saturday 26 September. 

Book Your Tickets

If you cannot make the exhibition we hope that with videos, audio, images, and statements by the winners to watch, hear, see, and read, you can experience and enjoy their works wherever you are.

The exhibition is also available to Browse & Buy online now. 

The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture

Shuang Liu

Woman in a Stadtische Galerie

The work uses traditional European techniques to detail an elderly woman who lived in Germany during World War II.

The work expresses the sitter's inherent persistent spirit and conveys the vicissitudes of time. The dress is a reflection of contemporary tradition.

The de Laszlo Foundation Award

Nneka Uzoigwe

Lily Before the Play

A portrait painted from life of the wonderful Lily Holder prepared to go on stage.

Prince of Wales's Award for Portrait Drawing

Jack Freeman

Walkie Talkie

I made this drawing of Patricia after a walk through Grantchester near Cambridge. The evening light made the scene particularly poignant. I wanted to capture the feeling of a walk, late in the day, through countryside, and I think the smokey blackness of the charcoal - particularly as it works into this hand-made paper gives the picture a grainy sentimentality.

Burke's Peerage Foundation Award

Joshua Waterhouse

Dame Glynis Breakwell

I would like to thank the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and Burke's Peerage Foundation for this prize. It was such a pleasant surprise to hear that I won.

This is a study for a much larger painting of Dame Glynis Breakwell commissioned by the University of Bath of their retiring Vice-Chancellor. In the larger painting, the setting is much clearer; the Vice-Chancellor is sitting in her living room on an ornately embroidered chair surrounded by objects which tell the story of her career. In its reduced size, this painting hints at some of the finer details in the larger portrait but is dominated by the large yellow background.

I always paint on wood panels, which I prime in the studio. Before I start drawing, I always rub in a thin layer of transparent red oxide, just to get rid of any white. Once the drawing is established, I start blocking in the lights and darks by using Burnt Umber and Titanium White. Then for the second pass, I start introducing colour and try to establish a palette. For the third pass, I'll work much more meticulously using finer detail and adding nuance to the painting; then I add glazes if I feel that certain parts need cooling or warming or darkening.

Once everything is dry, I add a layer of retouched varnish … in order to re-saturate some of the colours that may have sunken in - this is particularly a problem for darker colours, especially ivory black (which you can see on the sitter’s dress).

Smallwood Architects Prize

Steven Wood


Sandancer is the name used to describe those who come from the town of South Shields, Tyne & Wear, although the term is hardly known by anyone outside the local area.

The sitter, Julie Kassim, is on one of the different beaches in South Shields in a place called Frenchman’s Cove. Scattered around the painting are symbolic of runes that represent her spirituality and beliefs in the supernatural and white magic.

The image is placed in landscape form giving the viewer a sense of floating above her.

The RP Prize for the Best Small Portrait

Robbie Wraith RP

Studio Portrait

The RP Award

Stephen Leho

The Most Important Thing in the World

The sitter holds a small mobile she made, it represents the solar system. She has unsettled it and is straightening the threads.

The painting is about mental health and emphasises the need to stay in the present.

Discover the exhibition online now