Sydney artist Fiona Lowry has won the 2014 Archibald Prize for Penelope Seidler, a portrait of the famed Killara architect, it was announced at the Art Gallery of NSW on Friday.
"I was really struck by her beauty and her presence and asked someone who she was. I decided then that I would like to paint her," says Lowry.
"It is important to me when I am making a work that I take the subject to a place that has memory and history attached to it because I am interested in exploring the subject’s interaction with that landscape."
The Archibald and Wynne Prizes were judged by the 11 trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The judge for the Sulman Prize was artist Jenny Watson.
Asked to nominate his favourite entries last week, the president of the gallery's board of trustees, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, said: "There are lots but if I were to say that I'd be giving away a potential winner, wouldn't I?"
But he said a portrait by Rodney Pople of Barry Humphries, titled Well-dressed for a Sydney audience, "resonated a lot" with him.
He also praised Fiona Lowry's portrait of Penelope Seidler: "I also liked the very intense portrait of Penelope Seidler, who I know very well. That steeliness in her is there."
This year, there were 884 entries in the Archibald Prize (up from 868 last year), while the Wynne Prize received 669 entries and the Sulman Prize had 534 entries.
Last year, 136,000 tickets were sold to the exhibition of Archibald, Wynne landscape and sculpture prize, and the Sulman Prize finalists, making it the gallery's most-visited paid show.
The Archibald winner receives $75,000, the winner of the Wynne Prize for landscape painting or figure sculpture gets $35,000 and the winner of the Sir John Sulman Prize for subject/genre painting and/or mural is awarded $30,000.
The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW from July 19 to September 28.
Archibald Prize winner is Fiona Lowry for Penelope Seidler
Wynne Prize winner is Michael Johnson
Sulman Prize winner is Andrew Sullivan