It was purely coincidental – but it sure was nicely timed.
After seven years of drawing centenarians, Melbourne’s Peter Wegner painted the portrait of 100-year-old fellow artist Guy Warren AM – and claimed the Archibald Prize on the art gong’s 100th anniversary.
Mr Wegner’s Portrait of Guy Warren at 100 depicts Mr Warren sitting in a wooden chair wearing white clothes and draped in a pink jumper.
Mr Warren, the 1985 Archibald Prize winner, was born in April 1921 – the same year that the Archibald Prize was first awarded in Australia.
Critics said the portrait was a “moving insight” into Mr Warren’s state of mind as he enters his 11th decade, accentuating his pride and sense of purpose.
Art Gallery of NSW board president David Gonski said Mr Wegner was unanimously chosen by the panellists for the top gong.
Mr Wegner – a previous five-time Archibald Prize finalist – said on Friday that Mr Warren’s triple-figured age was not intentional but “nicely timed”.
He said he took inspiration from Mr Warren’s continued work in the art studio and counted him among the most extraordinary centenarians he had painted.
Mr Wegner has painted more than 90 centenarians so far.
“My wife burst into tears and I was speechless … this is an unbelievable moment in my life,” he said after the award ceremony.
“It’s the culmination of years of time in the studio, and validation of my work.”
Mr Wegner will take home $100,000 as part of the prize win.
Meanwhile, Indigenous painter Nyapanyapa Yunupingu won the Wynne Prize for her landscape painting Garak – night sky and Georgia Spain won the Sulman Prize for her painting Getting down or falling up.
German-born, Sydney artist Kathrin Longhurst last week won the Archibald Packing Room Prize for her portrait of singer Kate Ceberano.