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Toast of the art world: Guillaume Penot from Moët Hennessy and winner Nick Miller at the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2014

Toast of the art world: Guillaume Penot from Moët Hennessy and winner Nick Miller at the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2014

Olga Sesjaka and Tanja Thomas at the Hennessy Portrait Prize, in association with the National Gallery of Ireland

Olga Sesjaka and Tanja Thomas at the Hennessy Portrait Prize, in association with the National Gallery of Ireland

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Toast of the art world: Guillaume Penot from Moët Hennessy and winner Nick Miller at the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2014

Braving those wet and wintery gales is never easy but the promise of a decent snifter of Cognac makes things a good bit easier.

And thankfully there was plenty of the stuff at the launch night of the inaugural Hennessy Portrait Prize 2014 in the Millennium Wing of Ireland's National Gallery.

Nick Miller was announced as the overall winner for his portrait of the late painter Barrie Cooke.

"It was one of Barrie's last sittings," Miller explained. "There was an awareness that the end of the road was approaching so I painted with an urgency."

Miller was looking forward to using his €15,000 winnings to take the other 13 finalists out for a slap-up dinner. Good form, old bean.

Chocolat actor Hugh O'Conor made the shortlist with his arresting portrait Beckah and chatted about directing songstress Sinead O'Connor in her latest music video '8 Good Reasons'. Painter Robert Ballagh cut a dash in a navy overcoat and proudly reminded us his late wife Betty had founded the National Portrait Awards in Arnotts department store years previously.

There was a buzz in the room as gallery director Seán Rainbird invited us to view the works and we dashed up the stairs, sidecars in hand.

- KBK

Indo Review