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Deathbed portrait wins BP award

22 June 10 19:44 GMT

A painting of an artist's mother on her deathbed has been named the winner of the prestigious BP Portrait Award.

Last Portrait of Mother by Daphne Todd was among three portraits in the running for the £25,000 prize.

It was painted shortly after Annie Mary Todd's 100th birthday, and is described as a devotional study by the artist.

David Eichenberg and Michael Gaskell were also shortlisted for the award, which is now in its 31st year at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Todd, 63, was the runner-up in 1984 and stopped applying after she exceeded the age limit of 40.

But the rule was scrapped in 2007 and Todd decided to submit her work again.

'Worthy winner'

Before the winner was announced, she said: "I'm sure that they are making a gesture by having me in the shortlist, I'm the token elderly person."

Her painting shows her mother's body propped up at the undertakers, which she felt was not "cutting edge" enough to land the prize.

"In some ways it was easier. She kept still. I was just aware that I didn't have much time. I had to do it very quickly.

"Usually with a commission you have coffee breaks but I worked solidly for three days.

"I thought I ought to stop when she began to change colour but the undertaker said he would have been happy for me to do another day," she added.

Her mother had lived with her at her farm in East Sussex for 14 years, and had given her permission to do the painting a year before her death in April 2009.

The National Portrait Gallery's Director Sandy Nairne said: "Daphne Todd's winning painting is a powerful and poignant portrait - a worthy winner amongst excellent competition."

Gaskell, who met the subject of his portrait - Harry - while out shopping, took second prize for the third time.

A total of 58 competition entries have been selected for an exhibition which runs at London's National Portrait Gallery from 24 June to 19 September.

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