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The Archibald Prize for Portraiture – Some Statistics

McInnes_Miss_Collins_1924Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Archibald Prize for Portraiture – Some Statistics

One of the highlights of my visit to the Archibald Prize exhibition was stumbling across Peter Ross’s slim volume on the history of the Prize. While the publication itself is rather broad and cursory, it does contain an invaluable appendix listing and illustrating all the past winners of the prize. Examining them provides for some interesting statistics.

The Archibald Prize for Portraiture has been running annually from 1921 to present. As no prizes had been awarded in 1964 and 1980, and a single event was held in 1991-92, in total, during its ninety-two year history, 89 prizes have been awarded.

Out of these 89 prizes:

–         Because a number of artists had won several times, 89 Archibald Portrait Prizes were awarded to 53 artists.

–         Of these, William Dargie had won the most prizes with 8 wins under his belt (see image below); followed closely by William Beckwith McInnes with 7 (see image at the top; including the inaugural prize); John Longstaff and Ivor Hele both had won 5 times each; William Dobell, William Pidgeon, and Clifton Pugh had won 3 prizes each; Judy Cassab, Kevin Connor, Max Meldrum, William Robinson, Nigel Thomson, and Brett Whiteley had won twice.

Dargie_Jim Gordon Archibald

–         In total, these 15 artists represent 28% of all winning artists; and they won a total of 51 (or 57%) of the prizes.

–         A number of artists had won the Prize several years running:

  • The all-time record holder is the inaugural winner, William Beckwith McInnes, who had won back to back, 4 years in a row, 1921-1924;
  • William Dargie and Ivor Hele had won 3 years in a row each, 1945-47 and 1953-55 respectively;
  • Dargie also had a two-year winning streak (1941-2); as did John Longstaff (1928-29); Max Medlrum (1939-40); and Clifton Pugh (1971-72).

–         Eric Smith was the last artist to win the Archibald prize back to back, two years in a row (1981 and 1982); such feat has not been repeated since.

–         In 1997, Nigel Thomson became the last artist to date to enjoy a second win (for his portrait of Barbara Blackman), no artist had won the Prize more than once since.

–         81 prizes (91%) were awarded to a male artist; 8 (9%) to a female artist.

–         However, given that 89 prizes were won by a total of 53 artists, these figures can be adjusted to respectively 46 (87%) male and 7 (13%) female artists to have won the Prize.

–         With the total of two wins, Judy Cassab is the only female artist to date to win more than one Archibald Prize (1960 and 1967).

Beckwith Annear Archibald 1921

–         In 1921, William Beckwith McInnes won the Inaugural Archibald Prize (illustrated above).

–         McInnes was thus also the first male artist to win the Archibald Prize.

–         In 1938, Nora Heysen was the first female artist to win the Archibald Prize.

Judy Cassab- Stanislaus Rapotec 1960

–         In 1921, William Beckwith McInnes was the first artist (of either gender) to win with a portrait of a male sitter (as above, Melbourne architect H Desbrowe Annear);

–         By default, he was also the first male artist to win for a portrait of a male sitter (as per above).

–         In 1960, Judy Cassab was the first female artist to win the Archibald Prize for a portrait of a male sitter (Stan Rapotec).

–         In total, 76 prizes (85%) were awarded for a portrait of a male sitter.

McInnes Violet Archibald

–         In 1923, William Beckwith McInnes was the first artist (of either gender) to win with a portrait of a female sitter (Violet McInnes, illustrated above);

–         By default, he was also the first male artist to win with a portrait of a female sitter (as per above).

–         In 1938, Nora Heysen was the first female artist to win with a portrait of a female sitter (Mme Elink Schuurman).

–         In total, 13 prizes (15%) were awarded for a portrait of a female sitter.

–         The 46 winning male artists contributed 72 winning portraits of male (including 10 self-portraits) and 9 winning portraits of female sitters.

–         The 7 winning female artists contributed 4 winning male and 4 winning female portraits (including 2 self-portraits).

WilliamDobell-JoshuaSmith Archibald

–         William Beckwith McInnes was the first artist of either gender to win the Archibald for a portrait of another artist (of either gender) (his wife, Violet McInnes, 1923, as above);

–         In 1943, William Dobell was that the first male artist to win the Archibald for a portrait of another male artist (Joshua Smith, illustrated above);

–         In 1960, Judy Cassab was the first female artist to win the Archibald Prize for a portrait of a male artist (Stan Rapotec, as above).

–         To date, Judy Cassab is the only female artist who had won the Archibald for a portrait of another male artist.

Cassab Lewers Archibald

–         In 1923, William Beckwith McInnes by default became the first male artist to win with the portrait of a female artist (as per above, Violet McInnes).

–         In 1967, Judy Cassab became the first female artist to win the Archibald for a portrait of another female artist (Margo Lewers, illustrated above).

–         To date, Judy Cassab is the only female artist who had won the Archibald for a portrait of another female artist.

–         In total, 31 prizes (35%) were awarded for portraits of artists (including 12 self-portraits);

–         Of these, 23 portraits were of male artists (including 10 self-portraits); and 8 were portraits of female artists (including 2 self-portraits).

Wendy_Sharpe_Diana-of-Erskinville Archibald

–         In 1934, Henry Hanke was the first artist (of either gender) to win the Archibald with a self-portrait;

–         Henry Hanke is thus also the first male artist to win the Archibald with a self-portrait.

–         In 1996, Wendy Sharpe became the first female artist in seventy-five years to win with a self-portrait (above).

–         In total, 12 prizes (13%) were awarded for self-portraits.

Whiteley Archibald Self-Portrait

–         Brett Whiteley and William Robinson share a unique and curious distinction for having won two prizes each for self-portraits (1976/1978 and 1987/1995 respectively).

–         In total, 86 individuals sat for the 89 winning portraits:

  • As mentioned above, William Robinson and Brett Whiteley won twice each for their self-portraits (i.e. their own portraits);
  • Margaret Olley remains to date the only sitter (of either gender) whose portrait by different artists had won the Archibald – by William Dobell (1948) and Ben Quilty (2011).
Maestri Yunupingu Archibald

–         Out of 89 prizes, three were awarded for portraits of indigenous sitters (William Dargie, Albert Namatjira, 1956; Craig Ruddy, David Gulpilil, 2004; Guy Maestri, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, 2009).

–         In 1991/92, Brian Westwood’s portrait of Paul Keating was the last portrait of a politician to win the Archibald Prize. For the last 20 years, portraits of sitters from fine arts (11) or entertainment fields (7) have dominated the winning pool.

Storrier Self-Portrait Archibald 2012

So, following from the above, as well as the Sydney-centric sentiments observed in the previous blogs, the best odds for an Archibald-winning entry is a portrait by a white male Sydney or NSW based artist of a white male Sydney or NSW based sitter from the fine arts or entertainment-related fields.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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