The Archibald Prize

Entries close today for the Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney Australia. Artists have been marching in all this week with their chook raffle entries under their arm, hoping that the art gods will shine down on them with a $35,000 first prize and plenty of media attention.

The Archibald Prize is Australia’s most popular and talked about art prize. It’s the prize that draws the largest crowds and attracts those that wouldn’t usually enter an art gallery. It’s also the prize that the mainstream media in Australia picks up every year.

william dobell - joshua smith portraitThe Archibald was started in 1921 and is awarded to the best portrait of a distinguished person in the arts, sciences or politics and must be painted from life.

The media love the prize as there seems to be a scandal or disagreement nearly every year. It started with William Dobell winning the award in 1943 with a portrait of Joshua Smith. Other contestants accused it to be a caricature and took Dobell to court to appeal the decision. Sanity eventually prevailed and it was considered a portrait.

Since the Dobell scandal there has been controversy after controversy, which is great for publicity. If there were no scandals at the Archibald it would quickly lose its appeal to the media as it is really just another art prize, and art prizes with no edge get no television time.

The Archibald Prize is held at the same time as the Wynne and Sulman Prizes at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on the 29th of April and opens to the public on the 30th.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Anonymous says:

    do u no that guys name in the painting

  2. The sitter for the portrait is Joshua Smith. He was also an Australian painter that did more traditional, realist type portraits.

  3. Anonymous says:

    do you have a page of just the 1943 case?

  4. There’s no information about the William Dobell / Archibald case on artnewsblog, but there’s a little bit about it over here.
    There’s info on the history of the Archibald prize, the controversies and scandals, and the winners of the prize.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I need some information about the court case that took place about the Achibald winner a couple of years ago..
    The painting of the Aboriginal man….

  6. Anonymous says:

    I Really need info on the William Dobell case so please post some notes…

  7. Hi
    I don’t have anymore information on the Archibald Prize, but there’s some other websites that might help..

    Official Site of the Archibald
    Prize has some info.

    Culture and Recreation has some info on the history of the Archibald.

    The Art Gallery of NSW has a database of winners, etc..

    Wikipedia has a brief
    history and description of the Archibald prize. has a post about Craig Ruddy (and the Aboriginal portrait).

    That’s all I have on the prize though.


  8. Anonymous says:

    What medium did he use

  9. Anonymous says:
  10. Anonymous says:

    when do entries open and close for the Archibald Prize?

  11. Anonymous says:

    What mediums did he use?

  12. Anonymous says:

    have there been controversies in the Archibald in recent years? if so, who was the painter and what was th result.

  13. Anonymous says:

    what is the name of the painting? please hurry and tell me


  1. […] the only way to get mainstream media attention is controversy.. lots of controversy. Something the Archibald prize has known for a long time […]

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