National Portrait Gallery: Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2022

The National Portrait Gallery is now accepting entries for the sixth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Artists are invited to submit portraits in any media for consideration in the competition. As with past editions, the competition seeks to broaden the definition of portraiture and highlight the genre’s relevance in society and contemporary art. Artworks may originate from direct encounters between the artist and the sitter or draw upon existing imagery or archival research in response to history. Artists are encouraged to think about portraiture’s potential to engage with the social and political landscape of our time (excerpt credit: National Portrait Gallery website).

The Outwin 2019 – FIRST PRIZE A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez by Hugo Crosthwaite
Stop-motion drawing animation (3:12 min.), 2018
Collection of the artist, courtesy of Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

The triennial competition, founded in 2006 by an endowment from the late Virginia Outwin Boochever, calls for artists to “challenge the definition of portraiture.” First-prize winner Hugo Crosthwaite does just that. His 2018 stop-motion animation, A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez, illustrates one woman’s journey from Tijuana, Mexico, to the United States.

Andrea Michelson, Smithsonian magazine, 2019

The competition is open to all media and the timeline to enter is October 5, 2020–January 29, 2021. Click here to learn more about the submission process, entry guidelines, and media formats.

About Virginia Outwin Boochever
Virginia Outwin Boochever

Virginia Outwin Boochever (1920–2005) was born in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Maplewood, where her father was the president of a medical supply company. After graduating from Smith College in 1941, she became one of the first female commissioned officers in the Navy WAVES. In 1945, she married Louis C. Boochever Jr., a U.S. Foreign Service officer, and for the next thirty years, she dedicated herself to raising four children and to the diplomatic life that took the family to Luxembourg, Paris, Belgrade, Rome, and Brussels. Gregarious and curious, she took pleasure in learning about the art and culture of the countries where she lived and engaging the myriad people she met.

In 1974, the Boochevers moved to Washington, D.C. where Mrs. Boochever took on a variety of volunteer activities. She was most passionate, however, about her work as a docent at the National Portrait Gallery. Appreciation of art was a lifelong interest; as a young woman she had studied art at the graduate level, and she and her husband were enthusiastic collectors. Mrs. Boochever delighted Portrait Gallery visitors with her knowledge of the art works, especially of the subjects’ lives and times and continued as a docent for nearly two decades. She moved to Brunswick, Maine in 2003.

Always interested in people, Mrs. Boochever saw the endowment of a portrait competition at the National Portrait Gallery as a way to benefit artists directly. Her knowledge of the portrait museums of England, Scotland, and Australia allowed her to understand the role their competitions play in encouraging portraiture and she saw the endowment as a unique opportunity to fill a void in the American art world (credit: National Portrait Gallery website).

Click here to view The Outwin 2019 Prize Winners
The Outwin 2019 – PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDEEMuerto Rico by ADÁL
Inkjet print, 2017
Collection of the artist
Click the image to view the Competition Application

The National Portrait Gallery will be open Wednesdays through Sundays 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. beginning September 18th at Eighth and G streets N.W. Refer to the Visit section of their site for the latest visitor safety guidelines including a new requirement for free timed-entry passes for all ages.

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