Graeme Drendel wins $150,000 Doug Moran Portrait Prize 2022

Graeme Drendel with his portrait of fellow portrait painter Lewis Miller

Last week it was announced that Victorian artist
Graeme Drendel
has won Australia’s richest portrait prize, the $150,000 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize 2022
(DMNPP), for his painting of fellow artist Lewis Miller.

Portrait of Lewis Miller 
Graeme Drendel 

It’s not all about the size – because this is not a large painting – in very stark contrast to the winner in 2017 (see Tim Storrier wins richest portrait prize in the world) when the winning portrait was 2 metres high!

It is however a very fine and sensitive head study of the portrait painter who painted Graeme Drendel for his entry! Now there’s a tip for portrait painters needing a sitter!

You can read more about the background to the prize and its history below

Doug Moran Portrait Prize 2022

The prize encourages both excellence and creativity in contemporary Australian portraiture by asking artists to interpret the look and personality of a chosen sitter, either unknown or well known.

This is the web page about the Doug Moran Portrait Prize 2022.  There is no physical exhibition this year.

The Winner

Graeme Drendel’s artwork is strongly figurative (and allegorical?) – although not hyperrealistic – and often includes figures in the Australian landscape in his work. I recognised allusions to paintings by famous painters in art history. He works in oil, gouache and watercolour. 

His subjects are figures of solitude and introspection, even when depicted in groups or clusters. Their expression and attire are suggestive of larger obscured narratives, left to the viewer to decipher.

He was born in Victoria in 1953 and, since 1990, he has held thirty solo exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra. He is represented in many public and private collections throughout Australia.

He was a finalist in the Archibald Prize for Portraiture in 2018.

The Finalists

There are 30 finalists in the online exhibition of the Finalists’ workUnfortunately there is no narrative from the artist about the rationale behind the portrait. Nor is there any statement of media, support or size – which is a great pity.
I particularly liked the portraits by three women portrait painters
There is also a semi-finalists Gallery to show the ones which nearly made it as well as those that did make it to the final 30. It certainly includes ones which, on the basis of the digital image, I would have chosen over some of those that made the final 30!
The finalists below are organised by State and described in terms of:

  • name of the artist
  • title of the entry
  • Sitter’s name(s)

The finalists are a mix of well known artists and emerging artists. I recognised a number of the names from my previous coverage of Australian portrait prizes.


  • Tony Albert & Vincent Namatjira
    Blackfella bananas | Tony Albert & Vincent Namatjira
  • Michael Bell Starting a portrait of Mark Mordue. | Mark
  • Jackson Davies Kings Cross studio 2022 | Chris Field
  • Steve Lopes Warren Ellis, portrait study | Warren Ellis
  • Susan Ma Determination | Ron Ramsey
  • Kathleen Mason The war widow | Katie Norton
  • Neil Miley Concept, action, critique Evert Ploeg | Evert
  • Kirsty Neilson A decade in Afghanistan | Andrew Quilty
  • Liam Nunan Self portrait | Liam Nunan
  • Lucy O’Doherty Self portrait in pink room | Lucy
  • Amanda Penrose Hart Reg | Reg Mombassa
  • Dee Smart Navigating a new world | Kim Leutwyler
  • Madeleine Winch Soliloquy | Madeleine Winch (self


  • David Fenoglio Self portait wearing hat | David Fenoglio
  • Naomi White Keeping us healthy through science |
    Professor Ian Frazer AC


  • Joshua Miels Downhearted | Alex Howard
  • Tim O’Shea John Brewster – The Angels | John Brewster
  • Datsun Tran Scars of an artist | Datsun Tran


  • Daniel Butterworth My own worst enemy | Daniel
  • Graeme Drendel Portrait of Lewis Miller | Lewis
  • Vivien Gaston Maudie: Portrait of Maudie Palmer | Maudie
    Palmer AO
  • Jaq Grantford Bald | Jaq Grantford
  • Terry Matassoni Portrait of Jan Senbergs | Jan Senbergs
  • Lewis Miller Graeme Drendel | Graeme Drendel
  • Simon Schneider Obsession | Mervyn Schneider
  • Liz Sullivan Sweetness and sardines | Annie O’Shannessy
  • Debra Winn David | David McAllister AC


  • Owen John Biljabu Corban Clause Williams | Corban Clause
  • Rachel Coad The imaginative historian, self portrait |
    Rachel Coad
  • Sarah McBride Shiny | Simon Page aka Shiny


The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize judges original artworks from
Australian artists, capturing Australians from all walks of life,
whether a public figure or someone from the artist’s circle of
experience. Works are painted at least partly from life with the
sitter known to the artist and aware of the artist’s intention to
enter the Prize.

About the Doug Moran Portrait Prize

I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that some of the most valuable portrait painting prizes are available only to Australians!

Doug and Greta Moran AO established the Moran Arts Foundation in 1988 – as a celebration of Australia’s bicentennial – to fulfill their dream of helping Australian artists along the path to excellence.

The Moran Arts Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit organisation whose objective is to support the arts in Australia. Best known for the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize and the development of portraiture skills among Australian artists, the Foundation also fosters excellence in photography

  • The AUS $150,000 Prize currently equates to $102,000 (US) / £83,000 / €97,000.
  • The prize is acquisitive and the winning portrait immediately becomes the property of the Moran Arts Foundation, to be exhibited permanently as part of the Moran Arts Foundation Collection
  • However as previously indicated, don’t get too excited if you’re not Australian as you’re not eligible! 

The competition is open to Australian citizens or residents of at least 12 months

However the entrance fee for the competition is not cheap. It’s AUS$ 100 per entry!

In terms of submission, it bears a lot of similarity to the BP Portrait Prize – except that there is a much wider choice of eligible art media.

  • Artists are asked to interpret the look and personality of a chosen sitter, either unknown or well known from any walk of Australian life. 
  • Your sitter should be or should have been aware of your intent to enter their portrait in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize. 
  • Entries must be original works painted in oil, acrylic, watercolour, ink, pastel, egg tempera or mixed media.

Previous Blog Posts

I thought I’d covered this prize more than once – but can only find one post

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