Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2023

Those wishing to raise their profile as a portrait painter should be interested in the latest Call for Entries for the 132nd Annual Exhibition in 2023 of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

The deadline for the digital entries for the annual exhibition in May 2023 of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters is Friday 27 January 2023, 12 noon so now is a good time to start thinking about how you can use any extra time over Christmas and New Year to get an entry (or entries!) together.

This post is about:

  • the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters – and why it’s a good idea to enter
  • who can enter
  • what you can enter
  • how to enter
  • the timeline of important dates

About the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP) invites portraits completed by non-members to be entered in their annual open exhibition at the Mall Galleries in central London.

The Society welcomes paintings, drawings and original prints including digital/ipad prints from artists over 18, from the UK and internationally to be shown alongside members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters at their Annual Exhibition.


The Royal Society of Portrait Painters seeks submissions of new and traditional artistic models and perspectives in portraiture.


Reasons why you should enter the RP’s annual exhibition

For those wondering whether and why they should submit an entry to this exhibition, take a look at the following.

Entry is digital

  • You only need to go to the expense of framing and transport IF invited to progress to the second stage of selection. So most entries only incur the expense of the submission fee.

The Importance of Exhibitions to Portrait Commissions

artists accepted for exhibition will be invited to advertise portrait commissions through our Commissions department on which a commission will be payable.

Some significant prizes

This is an exhibition with some heavyweight and prestigious cash prizes. It has the most valuable prizes awarded by any national art society in the UK.

In total, the cash on offer is worth a total of £41,000.  These include awards for younger artists and portrait drawing.

  • The William Lock Portrait Prize: £20,000 for the most timeless portrait with a real feeling for paint and its aesthetic potential
  • The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture: £10,000 plus the Society’s Gold Medal awarded for the most distinguished portrait in the Society’s annual exhibition
  • The de Laszlo Foundation Award: £3,000 plus a Silver Medal for the most outstanding portrait by an artist aged 35 years or under
  • The RP Award: £2,000 will be awarded to the artist whose work best represents the year’s chosen theme – which for 2022 is ‘Self-Portrait’.
  • The RP Prize for the Best Small Portrait: A prize of £2,000 for the best small portrait in the exhibition, measuring not more than 38 x 30.5 cm (15 x 12 inches) unframed
  • The Prince of Wales’s Award for Portrait Drawing: £2,000 and framed certificate for a portrait in any recognised drawing medium
  • The Burke’s Peerage Foundation Award for Classically Inspired Portraiture: The Burke’s Peerage Foundation Award, established by its founders William Bortrick and Mark Ayre in 2015, is presented for Classically Inspired Portraiture in the RP Annual Exhibition. It is presented each year with a certificate and a cheque for £2,000.
  • The Smallwood Architects Prize for Contextual Portraiture: £1,000 for a portrait in which architectural or interior features play an important part.

A prestigious portraiture exhibition – in central London and online

This is a very prestigious exhibition within the portrait world

  • It fills all three galleries at the Mall Galleries on The Mall in London
  • last year it attracted 4,400 entries to the exhibition – including very many entries from international artists
  • The exhibition is also put online so it can be seen all over the world.

Why it compares favourably to the BP Portrait and other portrait competitions

  • ALL works selected for exhibition from the Open Entry are chosen by practising professional portrait artists who are full artist members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. The Selection Committee is rotated annually. There are no administrators, sponsors, gallerists, art critics or other such éminence grise who get a say on what gets hung.
  • See my 2016 blog post Comparison of the RSPP Open and BP Portrait Award Competition which analysed the similarities and differences and concluded that more artists should submit to this Open Exhibition. I’ve no reason to change my opinion.
  • Your chances of getting exhibited: Exhibition Metrics: I haven’t crunched the numbers since 2019 but back then the data analysis I did was as follows
    • about half the portraits exhibited were by non-members
    • about 5% of the works submitted via the open entry were selected for the open exhibition. (This is a not untypical percentage for a top exhibition and is better than the acceptance rate for BP Portrait over several years when that was running)
    • a SIGNIFICANT number of artists from overseas submit their work – with an increasing number from Asia
    • your work needs to be VERY GOOD to get selected. I’d go so far as to say it needs to be better than some of the artwork submitted by members!


This is an OPEN EXHIBITION. Artists are invited to submit works for exhibition alongside members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters at their Annual Exhibition 2018.

In summary:

  • All entries are via digital submission
  • The deadline for entries is 12 noon on Friday 19th January 2018
  • The entry fee is £20 per work payable at the time of submitting (£15per work for artists aged 35 or under). 

Details of how artists can apply via the open entry process are set out below.

You can find details of what and how to submit on:

This is my post about the Annual Exhibition 2022 of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. I couldn’t make it to the exhibition last year (due to surgery) however you can see artwork which was hung in the 2021 exhibition on my Facebook Page in these albums. You need to click and work your way through to see them all…..

Who can Submit?

  • Any artist – over the age of 18 – living anywhere in the world can submit artwork to this exhibition and be exhibited alongside members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
  • This exhibition has become increasingly international over the years.

What you can submit

  • Media: any medium including original and digital prints (BUT excluding sculpture and photography).
  • Size: MUST NOT be larger than 2.4m along the longest dimension.
  • Number: a maximum of four works (of which a maximum of three will be selected)
  • Age: MUST have been completed in the last three years
  • Dry: Paintings MUST be COMPLETELY DRY at the time of delivery.
  • Exhibitions: Work must NOT have been exhibited previously.
  • For Sale: You can enter work “not for sale” – use NFS to indicate this
  • Price & VAT:The minimum price is £300 (Use £0 on form for NFS Works).
    • The price of works MUST include commission of (45% + Standard Rate VAT@20%) irrespective of whether the artist is registered for VAT i.e. the VAT relates to a sale via commercial gallery VAT registration)e.g. for a painting priced at £1000 the deduction by the gallery equals commission of £450 and VAT on commission on £90 = TOTAL deduction of £540
    • meaning the artist is paid £460
    • from which the artist must then deduct the costs of the materials, frame, the courier / transport to the exhibition, materials and a contribution to studio overheads)

Artists from outside the UK need to register for VAT if exhibiting work for sale. 

  • Please check with HM Revenue and Customs:
  • VAT on art imported into the UK for sale is 5%.

Packaging from delivered works cannot be retained and must be taken away at the point of delivery. To see delivery & shipping options, please click here.

How to Submit

The submission fee (which includes free admission to the exhibition – normally £5) is 

  • £20 per work for standard entries and 
  • £14 per work for artists aged 35 or under. 
The entry process works as follows (further details re. international artists are also below)

  • Read the generic terms and conditions – which are applicable to all art society exhibitions at the Mall Galleries
  • Read the specific entry requirements for this exhibition
  • International artists should note in particular the requirements re Money Laundering Regulations and VAT
  • Register for digital submission on the OESS website – if you have never entered before
  • Login to the Open Exhibition Entry website (login screen)
  • Submit your entry online prior to the deadline of 27 January 2023, 12 noon. You need to complete the form, pay the fee and upload images of work
  • Images must be in JPEG format and under 5MB
  • Pre-selection is based on online entries and associated digital images
  • Notification of Pre-selection: Friday 10 February, 12 noon
  • Deliver pre-selected entries ONLY to Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD for final selection on Saturday 4 March, 10am to 5pm
  • Final selection – in front of a Panel of Members of the RP
  • Notification of Acceptance Tuesday 7 March, 12 noon
  • Collect work not accepted for exhibition from Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD on Thursday 9 March, 10am to 5pm*
  • Collect unsold work: Thursday 18 May, 10am to 5pm*

* any work uncollected by 5pm will be removed and stored at a separate location for which artists will be charged a storage fee.

International Entries

  • All international submissions will be selected ONLINE ONLY, therefore selected international artists will need to ship their work to the gallery on a date to be announced. Please note that if selected international works arrive damaged, with unacceptable framing, or not as illustrated, they may be rejected.
  • Artists sending work from abroad should use a picture carrier. Many artists use Picture Post Art as they offer a packing and delivery service for our exhibitions (we do not accept any liability for their services). Picture Post Art – Tel: 07833 450788 / Email: [email protected]
  • If you are not a UK resident and your work is sold at the exhibition you have a responsibility to register and account for UK VAT with H.M. Revenue & Customs at (HM Revenue & Customs Reference: Notice 700/1).

The selectors’ decisions are final and no feedback is offered.

The Last 13 Years: Past Annual Exhibitions (2009-2021)

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