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Charlie Schaffer wins BP Portrait Award for Titian-inspired painting

The painting shows his close friend, Imara, in her winter coat.


Imara In Her Winter Coat (Charlie Schaffer/PA)

Imara In Her Winter Coat (Charlie Schaffer/PA)

Imara In Her Winter Coat (Charlie Schaffer/PA)

The BP Portrait Award has been won by Charlie Schaffer for his Titian-inspired painting of a close friend.

Imara In Her Winter Coat was selected to win first prize out of 2,538 submissions from 84 countries.

Shaffer, who is based in Brighton, was chosen as the winner by a judging panel which included Hayward Gallery senior curator Zoe Whitley and artist Gary Hume.

His work depicts his friend Imara, an English literature student he met after moving to Brighton.

He said: “She immediately struck me as someone who is uncompromisingly open and who wants to learn about anything and everything.”

She posed in her warmest winter coat to withstand the studio’s cold conditions and, while Schaffer set out to paint only her face, he subsequently added the coat after being inspired by Titian’s Portrait Of Girolamo Fracastoro in the National Gallery.

The judges, who deliberated anonymously, admired the mannerist style of this portrait, which has a strong sense of a living presence in Schaffer’s composition.

They said: “The skilful depiction of a combination of several different textures including faux-fur, hair and skin are revealed by prolonged looking and together these produce an image that is traditional, but clearly contemporary.”

Schaffer was presented with the £35,000 prize by Sandi Toksvig at a ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery.

He will also receive a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £7,000.

Originally from London, Schaffer studied at Central Saint Martins before graduating with a degree in Fine Art from the University of Brighton in 2014.

This is the first time he has been selected for the BP Portrait Award exhibition.

The oil on canvas will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery from June 13 when the free BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition opens to the public.


The Crown (Carl-Martin Sandvold)

The Crown (Carl-Martin Sandvold)

The Crown (Carl-Martin Sandvold)

The second prize of £12,000 went to Norwegian painter Carl-Martin Sandvold for The Crown.

The third prize, £10,000, was awarded to Italian artist Massimiliano Pironti for Quo Vadis?, a portrait of his maternal grandmother, Vincenza.

The BP Young Artist Award of £9,000, given to an entrant aged between 18 and 30, was won by Emma Hopkins, 30, from Brighton, for Sophie And Carla, a portrait that depicts photographer Sophie Mayanne and her pet dog.

The BP Travel Award 2019 went to Manu Kaur Saluja for her proposal to travel to the Golden Temple at Amritsar, India.

PA Media