Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ Annual Exhibition

Experience and Buy Europe’s Finest Portrait Paintings

– The only portrait painting exhibition curated by world-leading portrait painters –

Photo Credit – Mark Sepple

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ 133rd Annual Exhibition

Thurs 9th to Sat 18th May 2024, Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1 and online at

(Booking not required)

If you are interested in the painted portrait, there is one, annual portrait painting exhibition which is a must visit. The Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ Annual Exhibition is now in its 133rd year and is held at the prestigious Mall Galleries on London’s The Mall, home to the Federation of British Artists, a visual arts charity supporting artists since 1961. The exhibition is unique in that its collection of painted and drawn portraits, from a national and international submission, is selected not by the art establishment, by celebrities or media moguls, but by world-renowned professional portrait painters. With peer-reviewed paintings chosen through the discerning eye and instinctive sensitivity of other artists, the exhibition arguably showcases the very best painted portraits in Europe – both by established portraiture artists and by the most exciting up-and-coming talent. It is one of the world’s greatest forums for portraiture featuring a broad collection of stylistic and intellectual approaches.

Photo Credit – Mark Sepple

With much of the work shown available for sale, and with exhibiting portrait painters available for commission through the society’s Portrait Commission service, the show also presents an opportunity to buy portrait masterpieces of the future.

Martina Merelli-Stevens is the Fine Art Commissions Manager at the Malls Galleries

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ Annual Exhibition is a prestigious and historic show (the first being held in 1891,) which is the largest and most significant celebration of contemporary portrait painting in Europe. The exhibition features around 230 beautiful painted portraits which have been expertly curated by artist members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP). The Society looks to uphold the values and practices of its long and distinguished history, but at the same time, it seeks to explore and develop new artistic models and perspectives. Selection for the RP’s Annual Exhibition is highly prized (exhibiting artists are in the running for awards worth £40,000,) with artists submitting portraits from across the world. The Society presents the following prizes and awards annually:

– The William Lock Portrait Prize – one artist will win £20,000 for the most timeless portrait with a real feeling for paint and its aesthetic potential.

–        The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture

–        The de Laszlo Foundation Award

–        The RP Prize for the Best Small Portrait

–        The Raw Umber Studios Prize

–        The Smallwood Architects Prize for Contextual Portraiture

Photo Credit – Mark Sepple

This year, the awards shortlist will be announced on Thursday 9th May 2024 (the opening day of the show,) with winners announced on Thursday 16th May 2024.

President of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters, painter Anthony Connolly PRP, said; “No year is ever the same but there is something reassuringly constant about the RP show. Don’t conflate constancy with anything ordinary, however. You will see fresh and sometimes surprising work by painters you know well, and you’ll see portraits by artists who are new to you. Some will be appearing for the first time in a major international show. The RP Annual Exhibition is, more than ever, a welcoming space for both established and emerging talent.”

Visitors to the Annual Exhibition can buy many of the portraits on display (both in person and online) but, perhaps more interestingly, can commission their own. This means the show provides a showcase of both established RP members and Europe’s most exciting and up-and-coming portraiture artists, giving visitors a unique overview of a broad range of styles and interpretations. A representative from the RP’s commissioning service will be at the Annual Exhibition for one-to-one consultations, and the service is also available online. 

Artist, Tim Benson pictured with Adam Pearson

“This is the second time that I have painted my friend Adam and I really wanted to work on a full-body portrait this time around. Adam is used to people looking at his face, so I wanted to show that there is much more to him than merely his facial difference. Beyond this, I wanted to test my abilities as a painter; to confront the aspects of painting people that I am less accustomed to, for example the inclusion of hands and clothes. I very deliberately painted Adam so that he is staring directly back at the viewer, challenging the typical dynamic of him being the person scrutinised.”

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ 133rd Annual Exhibition runs from Thursday 9 May until Saturday 18May 10am to 5pm daily, until 7pm on Thursdays Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1

£5, Free for Friends of Mall Galleries and under 25s. Concessions available

The exhibition will also be available to be viewed online at where work can also be purchased