We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of New South Wales stands.

Timeline of Archibald Prize landmarks

The head and shoulders of a person with curly hair

A detail of WB McInnes' painting of Violet McInnes from the Archibald Prize 1923, the first winning portrait of an artist


JF Archibald dies, leaving a bequest that establishes the prize.


First Archibald competition is held, with no limit to the number of works an artist could submit. The exhibition opens in January 1922 and all entries are displayed.


New rule added that portraits should be painted from life.


First winning portrait of an artist: a painting by WB McInnes of his wife, Violet McInnes.


First known portrait of an Indigenous Australian exhibited: a painting by BE Minns of preacher, author and inventor David Unaipon.


First winning portrait of a foreign resident: a painting by John Longstaff of Russian actor Maurice Moscovitch on a tour of Australia.


First time a Wynne Prize exhibition is held in conjunction with the Archibald.


First known large-scale portrait exhibited: a painting by M Napier Waller of his wife, artist Christian Waller, measuring 121.5 x 205.5 cm.


First winning self-portrait, by Henry Hanke.


First time the Sulman Prize competition is held in conjunction with the Archibald and Wynne.


First woman to win the Archibald Prize – Nora Heysen – who at 28, remains the youngest winner as well, for a portrait of Madame Elink Schuurman, the wife of a Dutch diplomat.


William Dobell wins for a portrait of artist Joshua Smith, leading to a court case and the biggest controversy in Archibald history.


Vincent Sacco enters nine works – the most of any artist in a single year.


First time the Gallery trustees select works for exhibition rather than displaying all entries, and artists are limited to no more than two entries.


First time the Archibald and Wynne prizes are awarded in the same year to the same artist – William Dobell.


First known portrait of an Indigenous Australian woman exhibited: a painting by Paul Haefliger of blues singer Georgia Lee.


First time the prize is not awarded, as the Gallery trustees consider no entry worthy.


First time there is no exhibition, due to building works, with only William Pidgeon’s winning portrait of artist Lloyd Rees displayed at the Art Gallery.


John Bloomfield’s winning portrait of filmmaker Tim Burstall is disqualified, because it was painted only from a photograph, and artist and subject never met. The prize is instead awarded to Kevin Connor for his portrait of judge Frank Kitto.


First time the Archibald and Sulman prizes are awarded in the same year to the same artist – Brett Whiteley.


First time the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes are awarded in the same year to the same artist – Brett Whiteley.


The prize is not awarded, for the second time, as again the Gallery trustees consider no entry worthy.


First time the People’s Choice is awarded – to Fred Cress for a portrait of artist John Beard, which also wins the Archibald Prize.


First known portrait by an Indigenous Australian artist exhibited: a painting by Robert Campbell Junior of musician Mac Silva.


Two years are combined due to a change in the exhibition schedule. First time the Packing Room Prize is awarded – to Greg Bridges for a portrait of politician Gareth Evans – and first ‘official’ Salon des Refusés exhibition held at the SH Ervin Gallery, although there had been earlier displays of ‘reject’ entries.


First winning self-portrait by a woman artist, Wendy Sharpe.


A one-off Sporting Portrait Prize is held in conjunction with the Archibald, to celebrate Sydney hosting the Olympic Games.


First known portrait by an Indigenous Australian woman artist exhibited: a painting by Julie Dowling of her twin sister, broadcaster and educator Carol Dowling. First time both the Packing Room Prize and People’s Choice are awarded in the same year to the same work – a painting by Paul Newton of comedians Roy and HG (John Doyle and Greig Pickhaver).


New rule limits artists to a single entry per year.


John Olsen, at 77, becomes the oldest artist to win the prize, for a self-portrait.


First time a New Zealand resident artist wins one of the prizes, with the Packing Room Prize awarded to Martin Ball for a portrait of musician Neil Finn.


Artist Margaret Olley becomes the first subject to appear in two Archibald-winning paintings (other than self-portraits) – Ben Quilty’s in 2011 and William Dobell’s in 1948.


First Young Archie competition is held, for artists aged 5 to 18.


First time women artists win the Archibald Prize (Louise Hearman) and the Packing Room Prize (Betina Fauvel-Ogden) as well as the Wynne, Sulman and Trustees Watercolour prizes in the same year.


A collaborative portrait by students from Sydney Grammar Edgecliff Preparatory School is exhibited, making the 301 boys, aged five to 12, the youngest-ever exhibitors and the largest group to exhibit.


Number of entries, at 1068, hits an all-time high. The competition is delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. First wins for Indigenous artists, with the Packing Room Prize awarded to Meyne Wyatt for a self-portrait and the Archibald Prize awarded to Vincent Namatjira for a painting of Aboriginal leader Adam Goodes.


First time there is gender parity for exhibited artists. In the competition’s centenary year, a portrait by Peter Wegner of 100-year-old artist Guy Warren (himself an Archibald winner in 1985) is awarded the prize.


The highest known number of entries in the Archibald from Aboriginal artists (20). A portrait of an Aboriginal woman is awarded the prize for the first time – a painting of artist Karla Dickens by another Aboriginal artist, Blak Douglas.


For the first time ever, there are more works by women (30) than men (27) in the Archibald finalists. Across the three competitions – Archibald, Wynne and Sulman – the number of entries (101) and finalist works (38) by Aboriginal artists hits a new high. Young Archie also sets a record, with more than 3400 entries.