Zurich Portrait Prize 2019


5 October 2019 – 12 January 2020
Free admission

The annual competition showcasing contemporary portraiture attracts entries from across the island of Ireland, and from Irish artists living abroad. This exhibition will feature a shortlist of portraits chosen by the 2019 judging panel. 

The winner will receive a cash prize of €15,000, and a commission worth €5,000, to create a work for inclusion in the National Portrait Collection. There will also be two awards of €1,500 for highly commended works. The aim of the Zurich Portrait Prize is to showcase and encourage interest in contemporary portraiture, and to raise the profile of the long-standing and constantly evolving National Portrait Collection at the National Gallery of Ireland.

The exhibition will continue at Crawford Art Gallery, Cork from January to April 2020.

The Shortlist

  • Christopher Banahan (Galway), Self Portrait with eyes closed, acrylic on wood
  • Shane Berkery (Dublin), A Light, oil on canvas
  • Els Borghart (Louth), He is not here, oil on board
  • Enda Bowe (London, UK), Cybil McCaddy with Daughter Lulu, photograph – C-type print
  • Lisa Butterly & Lisa McCormack (Louth), The Day You Left, photograph
  • Comhghall Casey (Dublin), Self Portrait, oil on canvas
  • Joe Dunne (Dublin), And Their World of Far and Near Things, egg/oil tempera on canvas
  • David Hamilton (Armagh), Karen and Alan McStraw II, acrylic on canvas
  • Gordon Harris (Galway), Fragile, oil and silver leaf on board
  • Dragana Jurišić (Dublin), Paula Meehan, photograph
  • Lynn Kennedy (Dublin), I am Claudia, oil on linen
  • Miseon Lee (Dublin), Me in the Mirror III: Faux Hat, oil on linen
  • Salvatore of Lucan (Dublin), Lucy with 3 Hands and Me Holding onto her Leg, oil on canvas
  • Paul MacCormaic (Dublin), Tania Persechini Sewing, oil and acrylic on board
  • Ian Maher (Dublin), Self Portrait, plaster and acrylic on canvas
  • Fionn McCann (Dublin), Untitled T#1, photograph
  • Brian McCarthy (Dublin), Joe Duffy, oil on canvas
  • Oisín McFarland Smith (Wicklow), Granny Annie, photograph (Kodak Portra 400 taken on Bronica ETRS)
  • Tom Molloy (France), Paddy and me, photograph
  • Bríd Murphy (Laois), Blue I, II, III, 2019, 30-minute video triptych x 3 with sound
  • Liam Murphy (Dublin), Stephen, photograph
  • Liam Robinson (Dublin), Self-portrait as Ares, Greek God of War, coloured pencil, pencil, acrylic pen on card
  • Johnny Savage (Kildare), Mary Robinson, Dublin, 2018, photograph
  • Niamh Smith (Dublin), Institutions of Home, photograph
  • Marcel Vidal (Dublin), À la plage (Dad 1946 - 2018), oil on linen
  • Amy Walsh (Dublin), Mná na hÉireann, photograph

Get a sneak peek of the portraits on our Facebook page here

Colour photograph portrait by artist Mandy O'Neill showing teenage girl in school uniform against a pale blue background.

About the Zurich Portrait Prize

Last year’s Zurich Portrait Prize winner was Mandy O’Neill, with commendations awarded to Blaise Smith and Kim Haughton. Previous winners have included Jack Hickey, Vera Klute, Gerry Davis and Nick Miller. This year, the Gallery plans to extend the reach of the competition and engage a wide range of audiences around the country through a supporting education programme. There will be local talks by shortlisted artists, tours and workshops on portraiture. This year, the Gallery also launched the Zurich Young Portrait Prize for young people, up to age 18, of all abilities, from across the island of Ireland.

The Judges

The Zurich Portrait Prize 2019 judging panel comprises Mike Fitzpatrick, Dean of Limerick School of Art and Design and Director of Cultural Engagement, LIT; Professor Fiona Kearney, founding Director of the Glucksman; and Mick O'Dea, artist and member of the RHA

Three headshots, showing each of the judges for this year's Zurich Portrait Prize - on the far left, Mike Fitzpatrick, in the centre, Fiona Kearney, and on the right, Mick O'Dea.
The judges of the 2019 Zurich Portrait Prize - Mike Fitzpatrick; Fiona Kearney; Mick O'Dea.Credit

Mike Fitzpatrick is an artist, curator, academic and cultural producer. Currently Dean of Limerick School of Art and Design and Director of Cultural Engagement, LIT, he was Director of Ireland's first National City of Culture in 2014, and Irish Commissioner for the Venice Biennale in 2007 and 2015. He has curated over 80 exhibitions as Director/Curator of Limerick City Gallery of Art, and exhibitions, residencies and education include the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York;  PS1 Museum New York; and IMMA, Museum of Modern Art.  

Professor Fiona Kearney is the founding Director of the Glucksman, a contemporary art museum that promotes ambitious art for all ages and abilities. In this position, she has curated numerous exhibitions of Irish and international art, with a particular emphasis on how contemporary art practice relates to research directions within University College Cork.

Irish artist Mick O’Dea studied at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, the University of Massachusetts and Winchester School of Art. O’Dea taught at NCAD between 1981 and 1999 and has also taught at a number of universities in the U.K. and the U.S. He has received numerous awards and is an elected member of the Royal Hibernian Academy and of Aosdána. O’Dea’s work is held in many public and private collections including that of The Arts Council of Ireland; the Royal Hibernian Academy; the National Gallery of Ireland; and the National Drawing Collection.

About Zurich, sponsors of the Zurich Portrait Prize

Ireland is Zurich’s location of choice for its pan-European company Zurich Insurance plc (ZIP). Since the beginning of 2009, ZIP has been headquartered in Dublin and it is the main risk carrier for Zurich’s general insurance business in the EU. Patrick Manley is the CEO of Zurich Insurance plc. In terms of domestic business, Zurich focuses on two key business areas in Ireland – General Insurance and Life. In Ireland, Zurich employs approximately 1,100 people.

Donald Teskey (b.1956), Lenny Abrahamson (b.1966), filmmaker. 2018. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland. Commissioned by the National Gallery of Ireland, 2018.

National Portrait Collection

The origins of the National Portrait Collection date back to 1875. Over the years the collection has been developed with additions of many works depicting prominent Irish individuals who have contributed to the civic, social, and cultural life of the nation. The Portrait Prize, launched in 2014, has further contributed to the growth of this significant collectionl.

Explore the portrait collection
G.B. Shaw (1856-1950)

G.B. Shaw (1856-1950)
"You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.

Head of the statue of George Bernard Shaw. © National Gallery of Ireland.