Vera Klute announced as the winner of the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2015

Detail from Nick Miller, 'Last Sitting: Portrait of Barrie Cooke', 2013. © Nick Miller




On Tuesday 11th November, Hennessy and the National Gallery of Ireland announced Nick Miller as the winner of the inaugural Hennessy Portrait Prize 2014 at the official opening of the Hennessy Portrait Exhibition. Miller was selected by a judging panel of four for his piece Last Sitting: Portrait of Barrie Cooke, and was presented with a prize of €15,000 and a commission worth €5,000 to produce a portrait for inclusion in the National Portrait Collection.

More than 400 artists living in Ireland, and Irish citizens living abroad, entered the inaugural Hennessy Portrait Prize. Of these, 12 were shortlisted by the judging panel comprising Cristín Leach Hughes (The Sunday Times), Dr Declan Long (NCAD), Janet McLean (NGI), and Donald Teskey RHA and chaired by Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland. The winning work (Last Sitting: Portrait of Barrie Cooke) and the other eleven finalists’ portraits are on show at the National Gallery of Ireland until Sunday, 8th February 2015. Admission is free.

Commenting, Caroline Sleiman, Market Development Manager for Moët Hennessy said:

“Hennessy has been intrinsically linked to Irish Culture and our dedication to discovering gifted Irish talent goes back decades. Coming up to our 250th anniversary next year we are delighted to have welcomed this partnership with the National Gallery of Ireland to reinforce our commitment to Irish talent in exploring and celebrating the skill and creativity by so many wonderful artists. Reaching out to the Arts with the Hennessy Portrait Prize, we are delighted to have announced Nick Miller as the very first winner of this prestigious prize and look forward to welcoming many more.”

Adding to this, Sean Rainbird, director of the National Gallery of Ireland said:

“It has been a great delight to see so many entries for this inaugural competition. The range of settings and inventive use of different media demonstrates how vibrant portraiture remains today. Our congratulations to the winner and to each of the short-listed artists, and to Hennessy for their enthusiastic support of this new venture which we hope will continue for many years to come.”

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Dr Declan Long added:

“Given the strength and range of the short-listed artists’ work, we were faced with a very difficult decision in selecting a winner. Each of the 12 portraits had many impressive qualities, and each was highly distinctive in their approach to their subject. Our final choice is one that we all agreed was a very special achievement – representing a memorable encounter between artist and subject that has been realised in a sensitive and sophisticated manner.”

Nick Miller addresses portraiture, nature and human encounters through painting, drawing and film. He was elected to Aosdána in 2001. Born in London, but based in Ireland since 1984, he currently lives and works in Co. Sligo. Miller has exhibited widely in Ireland and internationally, and has had solo museum exhibitions and projects at: IMMA; the RHA, Dublin; The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; New York Studio School, USA; Limerick City Gallery; and The CAC, Concord, MA, USA.

The Hennessy Portrait Prize was launched in March 2014. Open to artists in all disciplines, the aim is to showcase and encourage interest in contemporary portraiture, and to raise the profile of the National Portrait Collection at the National Gallery of Ireland.
An illustrated catalogue on the 12 short-listed portraits is available from the National Gallery Shop (€5). An exhibition of all 12 short-listed works continues in the Gallery until 8 February 2015. Admission is free.

About Hennessy
Immersed in Irish heritage, Hennessy has evolved to become one of Ireland’s most well-known and cherished brands. Founded in Cognac, France in 1765 by Corkonian Richard Hennessy, the brand’s distinctly Irish heritage has stood the test of time and today draws upon some 200 years of knowledge, talent, expertise and passion. It is a brand that is intrinsically linked to the Irish way of life and is complemented by Hennessy’s commitment to Ireland’s unique sociability and skill in creating unforgettable experiences.
Hennessy’s Savoir-Faire is evident from its unique heritage, tradition and exceptional craftsmanship which create Hennessy Cognac. Though the Hennessy brand has evolved throughout the years, the true art form of its traditions and methods remains timeless.

About the National Gallery of Ireland
Established in 1854 by an Act of Parliament, the National Gallery of Ireland houses the nation’s collection of European and Irish fine art spanning the early Renaissance to the 1950s. The collection comprises over 14,500 works of art. The Gallery is also home to the National Portrait Collection (established 1874). Over the years the collection has developed through the addition of paintings, drawings, watercolours and sculpture depicting eminent Irish individuals who have contributed to the civic, social, and cultural life of the nation. Since 1998 the National Portrait Collection has been enhanced by works which reflect both a more contemporary engagement with the affairs of the nation and a broader range of subjects. These include portraits of Mary and Nicholas Robinson by Mark Shields; Ronnie Delany by James Hanley; Bono by Louis le Brocquy; Maeve Binchy by Maeve McCarthy; Brian Friel by Mick O’Dea; Michael Longley by Colin Davidson; and Gay Byrne by John Kindness. More recently the Gallery acquired photographic portraits of Olwen Fouéré, Bob Geldof and Brian O’Driscoll by Kevin Abosch and Seamus Heaney by Jackie Nickerson.