Winners of Zurich Portrait Prize and Zurich Young Portrait Prize announced at National Gallery of Ireland

Logos of the Zurich Portrait Prize and Zurich Young Portrait Prize

David Stephenson wins Zurich Portrait Prize; Ruaidhrí Condon wins Zurich Young Portrait Prize. 

David Stephenson has been revealed as the winner of the National Gallery of Ireland’s Zurich Portrait Prize. His work, Ann and Ollie, Main Street, Wexford, a photograph, was announced as the winning portrait this evening at a prize-giving ceremony in the Gallery. As well as a prize of €15,000, the artist will receive a commission worth €5,000 to produce a new work for the National Portrait Collection.

Marie Smith and Mantas Poderys received highly commended prizes to the sum of €1,500 for their respective portraits, Armand, fired Terra Rossa di Montelupo clay on wooden stand, and Shota, pastel on cotton paper.

David Stephenson, on his portrait Ann and Ollie, Main Street, Wexford said, “I took this portrait while I was recovering from Covid. During lockdown, I made a short film in which I tried to portray what we all experienced: the isolation that enhanced one’s sense of aloneness. Something of that silence and separateness resonates in this image. What drew my eye was Ann’s red coat, the condensation that made a ghost of Ollie, and how they were separated yet connected by the cracked paint of the window frame. These details made a transitory stage suffused with pristine light, the same ordinary light that falls into every window on every street.”

David Stephenson is a fine art photographer and filmmaker from Dublin. He cites photographers Eugene Richards and Saul Leiter as influences. Stephenson’s street portraits reveal glimpses of interiority and intimate reverie in public places. His award-winning short film Raymond is an elegiac portrait of an older man’s recollections of life on the Irish border. He is currently working on a film and photographic project titled Main Street, Bray. Stephenson’s work has been exhibited at the Hunt Museum, Limerick; the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts, Dublin; the Municipal Gallery, dlr Lexicon, Dún Laoghaire; the National Portrait Gallery, London; glór, Ennis, for the exhibition 30 Years, Artists, Places; and Photo Museum Ireland, Dublin, for his solo show Slant.

Judges for the Zurich Portrait Prize were Dorothy Cross RHA, artist, Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, and Anne Stewart, Senior Curator of Art, National Museums Northern Ireland. Commenting on their selection, Anne Stewart said, ‘’It is a huge honour to be one of the judges of the 2023 Zurich Portrait Prize. Considering the many entries has been a daunting task and, talking with the other judges, we have all been deeply impressed by the quality of the submissions. During the initial selection I was particularly struck by the vitality and diversity of many of the entries, and this impression was intensified when seeing all the short-listed entrants together for the first time in the National Gallery of Ireland last week. It is a remarkably powerful exhibition, and takes time to absorb and enjoy. In the end, we agreed surprisingly quickly about the choice of winner and runners-up. I think this was because all through the process we had discussed and explored our reactions and choices at length, and so in the end there was a very clear winner and two stand-out runners up.’’

Earlier today, the winners were also announced for the Zurich Young Portrait Prize. Judges for the Zurich Young Portrait Prize judges were: Jessica O’Donnell, Head of Education and Community Outreach, Hugh Lane Gallery, Ola Majekodunmi, writer, broadcaster and producer, and Tom McLean, visual artist and curator.  Upon selecting a winner from each age category (ages 6 and under, ages 7-11, ages 12-15, ages 16-18), in addition to an overall winner, commenting on their selection, Ola Majekodunmi said, “It was such a wonderful experience to judge the Zurich Young Portrait Prize Award this year, so many fascinating, diverse works from young people of different ages. The quality of the work from artists so young really captivated my interest and inspired me. The vibrant portraits and their important messages will stay with me. Well done to all of them!”

Ruaidhrí Condon, aged 15, was selected as the overall winner of the Zurich Young Portrait Prize for his work Self-Portrait, oil on canvas.  The prize includes a wooden box of high-quality art materials and a €500 cash prize. In his artist’s statement, Ruaidhrí said, “I started with the eyes because I think the eyes are the most important part of the face and you can identify how a person is feeling just by looking at them. I painted on a large canvas so that I could add fine details and make myself as recognisable as possible. I used many different colours to get the right skin tones.”

Isabel Brogan, aged 6, won the youngest category with Isabel and her technicoloured dream jumper, a painting of pencil, paint and paint pens on card. In the second category, Adam Wiercioch Chinatamunnee, aged 7, won with My Father, collage, mixed media, gelli prints, marker and newspaper on paper. Travel with Optimism, pencil on paper, by Estella Morrissey, aged 15, was the winner of the category for ages 12-15. Gianna Fitzgibbon, aged 16, won the final category with Portrait of My Baby Brother, oil on canvas. Each category winner is awarded a personalised box of art materials alongside a prize of €250.

Dr Caroline Campbell, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, said, “This year’s shortlists for the Zurich Portrait Prize and the Zurich Young Portrait Prize give a sense of the diversity of modern Ireland and its diaspora, and the means of representation open to its artists. Huge congratulations to our winners David Stephenson and Ruaidhrí Condon who have impressed the judges and our visitors with their talent. We look forward to welcoming many more people to see these works and the full exhibitions in our Portrait Gallery throughout the winter and spring.”

Neil Freshwater, CEO of Zurich Insurance plc, added, “My warmest congratulations to the winners of the Zurich Portrait Prize and the Zurich Young Portrait Prize, who have inspired us with their impressive and accomplished artworks. Supporting these competitions over the past six years has been a huge source of pride and inspiration for me and my colleagues at Zurich Insurance plc, and we look forward to seeing how they continue to develop and evolve into the future.”                                                                                           

The Zurich Portrait Prize exhibition, featuring 25 shortlisted works in total, is now open at the National Gallery of Ireland. It will run until 10 March 2024 alongside the Zurich Young Portrait Prize exhibition of 20 shortlisted portraits. 
Find out more at 


Notes to Editor:

  • Photographer Robbie Reynolds will issue photos of the prize giving ceremonies to media on the evening of 12 December 2023. Other images of artists and artworks are available on request. 
  • Winning artists and Gallery representatives are available for interview.

Exhibitions listings:

Zurich Portrait Prize and Zurich Young Portrait Prize
Portrait Gallery, National Gallery of Ireland: 2 December 2023 – 10 March 2024
Free admission

Gallery opening hours:

Monday: 11am – 5.30pm 
Tuesday – Wednesday: 9.15am – 5.30pm 
Thursday: 9.15am – 8.30pm 
Friday – Saturday: 9.15am –5.30pm 
Sunday: 11am – 5.30pm

About the National Gallery of Ireland:

The National Gallery of Ireland is one of the country’s most popular visitor attractions housing the nation’s collection of European and Irish art from about 1300 to the present day, and an extensive Library & Archive. Entry to the collection is free for all to enjoy, learn and be inspired. Tickets are required for some temporary exhibitions. 

2024 at the National Gallery of Ireland:

2024 is the 170th anniversary of the establishment of the Gallery through the National Gallery of Ireland Act (1854) and the 160th anniversary of the opening of the National Gallery of Ireland on the 30 January 1864. The Gallery will also publish a new strategic plan for the period 2024-28 in early 2024.

Zurich Portrait Prize:

The Zurich Portrait Prize, open to artists aged 19 and over, runs for the tenth time in 2023 with Zurich as sponsor for the sixth year. The aim of the Zurich Portrait Prize is to showcase and encourage interest in contemporary portraiture, support Irish talent and to raise the profile of the long-standing and constantly evolving National Portrait Collection at the National Gallery of Ireland. 

Zurich Young Portrait Prize:

Following the outstanding success of the Zurich Young Portrait Prize in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, the competition runs for a fifth year in 2023. This inclusive art competition is open to children and young people of all abilities, up to the age of 18, from across the island of Ireland. 

About Zurich:

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. Neil Freshwater 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 over 1,250 people.   
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