Melbourne artist Yvette Coppersmith’s self-portrait has won this year’s Archibald Prize.
Coppersmith received the $100,000 prize for portraiture at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney on Friday, becoming the 10th woman to win the prize in its 97-year history.
Her work, titled Self-Portrait, After George Lambert, was inspired by 1927 Archibald Prize winner George Lambert, whose work Coppersmith admires.
“His style was academic, yet he supported the avant-garde in Australia and painted portraits of his artistic contemporaries Thea Proctor and Hera Roberts — both independent, self-possessed style-makers at a time of burgeoning female empowerment,” Coppersmith said.
Coppersmith had originally asked to paint New Zealand’s pregnant Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, but was told Ms Ardern was unavailable so decided to pose for the portrait herself.
“I would like to start by saying I want to channel the original inspiration for this portrait, which was the Right Honourable New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern,” Coppersmith said on Friday.
“I think she [Ardern] would have worn this colour,” she added of the dusky pink dress she sports in the artwork.
Shortly after she claimed her prize, an excited Coppersmith received a surprise call from Ms Ardern.
“I just wanted to call and congratulate you. What an enormous and amazing achievement,” Ms Ardern said in a phone call broadcast on Sky News.
“What an incredible piece, your work is absolutely phenomenal.”
— Art Gallery of NSW (@ArtGalleryofNSW) May 11, 2018
This is the fifth time Coppersmith has entered the Archibald Prize.
“Hearing of the win this morning my mind was scrambling to integrate the surreal news about something that’s been 20 years in the making. I’m still trying to fathom it!” she said.
Self-portraiture is Coppersmith’s favourite style of painting because it allows her, “to work from life, with intense absorption in the painting process”.
Among the 56 other finalists were Jamie Preisz’s Packing Room prize-winning portrait of rocker Jimmy Barnes, Mathew Lynn’s portrait of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Anne Middleton’s portrait of actor Guy Pearce.
There were also 21 self-portraits. The announcement comes two months earlier than last year, with the exhibition set to run for a month longer than usual.
– with AAP