Matan Ben Cnaan's "Annabelle and Guy" won this year's BP Portrait Award. Matan Ben Cnaan's "Annabelle and Guy" won this year's BP Portrait Award. Matan Ben Cnaan's "Annabelle and Guy" won this year's BP Portrait Award. (Photo: Matan Ben Cnaan/NPG)

Prestigious portrait competition crowns 2015 winner

Matan Ben-Cnaan wins first prize at this year's BP Portrait Award ceremony.

The world of portrait painting has crowned a new king. The BP Portrait Award, the world's most prestigious portrait competition, named Israeli artist Matan Ben-Cnaan's neorealist allegorical painting, "Annabelle and Guy," the winner of this year's crop of artists.

The judges said of the painting: "We were struck by the engaging filmic narrative of this neorealist painting and the unnerving atmosphere that surrounds it. The painting’s setting and the treatment of intense light and deep shadow was much admired."

The first prize comes with a £30,000 (about $48,000) award and a commission worth £5,000 (about $8,000) to be agreed between the National Portrait Gallery in London (where the awards ceremony was held) and the artist.

The second prize went to British artist Michael Gaskell for "Eliza." Gaskell is no stranger to the BP Portrait Award competition. He has been selected five times for the BP Portrait Award, winning second prize on three occasions.

The third prize went to Spanish artist Borja Buces Renard for "My Mother and My Brother on a Sunday Evening," a portrait of his mother Paloma and his brother Jaime in the living room of his parents’ house.

Borja Buces Renard's "My Mother and My Brother on a Sunday Evening" came in third in this year's BP Portrait Award competition.Borja Buces Renard's "My Mother and My Brother on a Sunday Evening" came in third in this year's BP Portrait Award competition. (Photo: Matan Ben Cnaan/NPG)

New York-based artist Eleana Antonaki won the Young Artist Award for a portrait of her friend. The judges praised it for its "enigmatic, futuristic narrative."

Eleana Antonaki's "J." won the Young Artist Award at the 2015 BP Portrait Award competition.Eleana Antonaki's "J." won the Young Artist Award at the 2015 BP Portrait Award competition. (Photo: Eleana Antonaki/NPG)

A total of 2,748 portraits from 92 countries were submitted this year – more than any other in the prize’s 36-year history. Prize organizers attributed this increase to new rules that allowed artists to submit images of their portraits digitally.

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