Doug Moran National Portrait Prize 2021 finalists

Congratulations to the recently announced 30 finalists of the 2021 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, Australia’s richest art prize.

Portraits of Hugh Mackay AO, Asher Keddie and Warren Ellis (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds), as well as well-known Australian artists such as Lewis Miller, Rodney People, Vincent Fantauzzo and Penny Dowie, are among the artworks running for the $150,000 prize.

This year’s judges are Emeritus Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia Daniel Thomas AM, prominent Australian artist and 2017 DMNPP winner Tim Storrier AM and Peter Moran, Managing Director of the Moran Health Care Group.

Thomas commented:

‘At a time of contagion and lockdown, the entries for the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize included a few works that directly referred to the times, but we became aware of a more general emphasis on the intimate life – of family at home, of love and friendship. Of course, a few portraits of beautiful or important people occur among the 30 finalists. However, we found most of the selected portraits constituted a wonderfully ordinary survey of all-Australian diversity, many old and plain and modest, but intensely individual and emotional.’


Peter Smeeth, Trompe l’oeil Self-Portrait with Old Doo

Storrier added:

‘One of the best portraits I have ever seen in Australia or for that matter anywhere is George Lambert’s portrait of Mrs Annie Murdoch painted in 1927. I saw the portrait at the National Gallery Lambert retrospective in 2007, and I was struck by the penetrating gaze, the quizzical expression of her mouth and the wonderful human sense of acceptance of who she is. Viewing the portrait was very much like a personal engagement.

It is true to say that very few of us are blessed with Lambert’s talents; however, a portrait of such quality can set a benchmark of excellence for contemporary portraitists to try to attain.

With a prize such as the ‘Moran’, it is imperative that a standard of aesthetic excellence is maintained above currently fashionable political pressures if its legacy is to be a collection of portraits of lasting cultural value.

The ‘Moran’ is open to any dauber who wants to present an image of a human being – be they immature, amateur, dilettante or gifted and trained professional. Simply this award is for excellence – the best painting as far as one can judge. Identity politics are not relevant or welcome.’

The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize winner will be announced on Friday 30 November 2021, accompanied by the launch of an online exhibition of the finalist works.

For a complete list of finalists, and to view their artworks, visit