Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2018

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters is having its annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries this month. As usual, the exhibition shows the best of current portraiture, with not only members showing their work but also a generous number of non members’ work on display. Each year the society invites artists to submit work and a significant part of the show is made up the works selected from the open submission.  It is an honour to show with this historic society and it is always a worthwhile show to visit.

Traditional Portraiture

This year the exhibition shows the usual high quality of work. Most of the pieces are oil paintings but there is a large proportion of drawings and some acrylic, pastel and egg tempera paintings as well. Many of the paintings follow a traditional interpretation of the concept of ‘portrait’ which I quite like. There is no need to wonder whether conceptual works are a portrait or not and whether they belong in the show. Most of the works are realistic, many are head and shoulder pieces, and all focus on quality of line, value, colour and design. 

Professional Portrait Artists

The artists in this show are mostly professional portrait artists and many society members are the portrait artists of choice for politiecians, universities, celebrities and charities. We consequently can admire some fairly formal portraits of sometimes famous or important people. But don’t be put off by formal portraits even if that is not your thing: they often show a dazzling array of skills and I certainly enjoy looking at and learning from them. 

That is how I typically enjoy this annual exhibition: it is a showcase of the best, and I love finding my favourites. I love going round and enjoying the many beautiful, confronting and sometimes even funny paintings of one of my favourite subject matters: people. The large variety of styles and techniques makes this show a joy for anyone who loves painting and for anyone who paints themselves.


Here is an impression of the exhibition in pictures with some of my favourites highlighted. I had many more favourites than I could show in this article so please do go and visit the exhibition yourself, it will really be worth your while. Many pieces are for sale so if you are after something to add to your collection you are in for a treat.

Which is your favourite? 

Click the images for enlargements, a slideshow, and captions.

I was delighted and honoured that my pastel self portrait was selected for the exhibition and pleased to find it in a good spot in the North Gallery....

Royal Society of Portrait Painters
Annual exhibition
Mall Galleries: The Mall, London
10 - 25 May 2018
Admission £4, £3 concessions, 50% off with National Art Pass, Free to Friends of Mall Galleries and under 18s

There is a wonderful series of events during the exhibitions such as demonstrations and even a face-off between 3 portrait artists on the 17 May. A full colour catalogue is available for sale.

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