Is the OBPC an annual event?
No.  The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is currently scheduled as a triennial event.  Look for the call for entries for the OBPC 2009 in the summer of 2008.

Will the OBPC always be a painting and sculpture competition?
Not necessarily.  Future Outwin Boochever Portrait Competitions will explore other media. 

Who may enter this competition?
You may enter if you are at least 18 years old as of January 1, 2005, and are living and working in the United States at the time of the competition.

How do you define “portrait”?
In the broadest sense of the word! There are many valid approaches for representing an individual, some of which may not even include a face. But the work entered must be based on your direct contact with a living individual, and the human figure must predominate.

Are portrait photographs eligible?
No. We will only accept painting and sculpture in the inaugural Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006, since these are two traditional media that have been used by figurative and portrait artists. The OBPC will be held triennially, however, and future competitions will feature photography, watercolor, drawings, and electronic and digital media.

May I enter a portrait made from pastels?
No. For the purposes of this competition, we are focusing on paintings made primarily with liquid media.  Mixed-media work will be accepted.  We recognize the art world's debate about categorizing pastels as either drawings or paintings but we plan to focus on drawings, watercolors, and pastels in a future competition. 
We hope that by narrowing the field for each competition we can give rightful attention to a variety of portrait media. 

May I enter more than one portrait?
No. Each artist may enter only one portrait, and it must have been completed after January 1, 2004.

Does the subject of the portrait matter? Should the portrait depict a famous person?
No. The portrait can be of anyone, as long it is based on the artist’s direct contact with that person. Self-portraits will also be accepted.

Has anyone ever held a national portrait competition before?
Yes. Although this is the first national portrait competition to be held in the United States, the OBPC 2006 is similar in some ways to the annual BP Award held at the English National Portrait Gallery in London. Check out their Web site at to see examples of contemporary portraiture exhibited there, as well as commissions created by past winners.

Who are the judges?
The jury is composed of the following persons:

  • Carolyn K. Carr, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
  • Trevor Fairbrother, Independent Scholar and Curator, Boston, Mass.
  • Brandon Fortune, Associate Curator of Painting & Sculpture, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
  • Thelma Golden, Director, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, N.Y.
  • Sidney Goodman, Artist, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Marc Pachter, Director, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
  • Katy Siegel, Associate Professor of Art History and Criticism, Hunter College, CUNY, and Contributing Editor, Artforum
What are the awards?
The first prize is $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection. The second prize will be $5,000. The third prize will be $3,000. Up to four artists may be commended for their work, and they will receive $1,000 each.

How will the commission be awarded to the winner?
The National Portrait Gallery is poised to begin to commission portraits of remarkable Americans for its collection in all media. NPG will determine a working list of possible subjects from the worlds of the arts, science, business, entertainment, sports, and public service. The winning artist will then work with the Gallery to select a subject from the list and arrange sittings.

What do I have to do to enter?
Visit "Enter the Competition" and complete the online application. You will be asked for:
  • Basic information about yourself
  • Information about the work you are submitting
  • One or two JPEG images of the work if it is a painting, and up to four images if it is a sculpture. Each image should be no larger than 3 megabytes.
  • Credit card information to pay your $25 entry fee.
Alternatively, you may submit your entry by mail, but we can only accept a limited number of paper entries. The entry fee for this option is $35, which includes a $10 surcharge to cover processing costs. Paper entries, which will be available after May 15, 2005, must be postmarked by August 19.

Please do not send the work itself at the initial entry stage. The NPG will arrange to do this later if you are a semifinalist.

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What is the entry fee?
$25 (via credit card) if you enter and submit a digital image of your work online
$35 (via credit card, certified check, or money order) if you mail in a paper entry with a slide of your work.
The extra $10 charge covers additional handling and processing for mailed-in entries.

Why is there an entry fee?
The OBPC is made possible through a generous gift from Virginia Outwin Boochever, a former volunteer at the National Portrait Gallery, who has initiated this program to invigorate the art of portraiture in the United States and to offer support to artists. The costs of launching and administering a national competition are great, however. Therefore, the Gallery is charging a minimal entry fee to offset some of these costs, so that Mrs. Boochever’s gift can continue to support future competitions.

What are the size and weight restrictions for artworks?
Paintings should not measure more than 7 feet by 7 feet by 8 inches, including the frame. Sculpture should not measure more than 7 feet by 7 feet by 4 feet. Works of either type should not weigh more than 150 pounds.

When and how will I be notified
...that my application has been received? You will receive an e-mail confirmation.
...if I am a semifinalist? Semifinalists will be notified by e-mail or U.S. mail on or around November 15, 2005, that their work has been selected for further consideration. At that time, arrangements will be made to ship the work to Washington, D.C.
...if I am a finalist, or a prizewinner? Finalists and winners will be e-mailed or notified via U.S. mail on or before March 15, 2006. Their entries will be part of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006 exhibition, which will open in concert with the grand reopening of the National Portrait Gallery and will be on view from July 4, 2006, through January 2007. 

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How late can I submit my entry?
Entries submitted via U.S. mail must be postmarked no later than August 19, 2005. The deadline for online entries is 11:59 p.m. EDT on September 6, 2005. We strongly encourage you to submit them as early as possible. Entries received early in the process could be featured on the competition Web site’s Portrait of an Artist page during the entry period.

If I am a semifinalist, will my work be insured?
Yes. The work will be insured “wall-to-wall,” and will be shipped to and from Washington, D.C., at the National Portrait Gallery’s expense.

Can the artwork be offered for sale during the period it is entered in the competition?

Do I have to relinquish my copyright?
No. The copyright in all paintings and sculptures submitted for the Portrait Competition and which are exhibited will remain the property of the artist. But it is a condition of entry that the National Portrait Gallery shall have the irrevocable right of free reproduction of all exhibited paintings and sculptures for the exhibition publication, postcards, prints, posters, and other products, its Web site (or other electronic outlets), publicity, educational, and reference purposes in connection with the Portrait Competition and the resulting exhibition, and other standard museum uses.

If I’m featured on Portrait of an Artist, does that mean I’m a semifinalist?
No. Artists featured on Portrait of an Artist will be chosen at random. This in no way affects their status in the competition.

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