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'Hugo' wins Archibald Prize 2013

Del Kathryn Barton has won the Archibald Prize for the second time with her portrait of Hugo Weaving.

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Del Kathryn Barton's portrait of actor Hugo Weaving might have won the Archibald Prize, but at the announcement all eyes were on a statuesque woman in a black corset with a large heart tattooed across her chest.

The subject of Wendy Sharpe's Anything goes, burlesque performer Venus Vamp, was an eye-catching presence among the artists and corporate types gathered at the Art Gallery of NSW on Friday for the announcement of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes.

The chairman of the Art Gallery of NSW board of trustees, Steven Lowy, said the 11 trustees who judge the $75,000 portrait prize believed Barton's painting to be the best.

Winner of the 2013 Archibald Prize, del Kathryn Barton with her portrait of 'Hugo' after the announcement at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney.

Hugo and me ... Del Kathryn Barton with her winning entry at the Art Gallery of NSW. Photo: Tamara Dean

''Overall, it's an amazing photo … ah, excuse me, an amazing painting,'' he said, in a slip of the tongue.

Lowy admitted luck played a factor in the judges' decision to award the Archibald Prize to Barton for a second time over runner-up Fiona Lowry, who painted video artist Shaun Gladwell.

The trustees' top five entries also included Julie Dowling's painting of Wilfred Hicks, David Griggs' TV Moore and Sharpe's portrait.

People's Choice: Asher Keddie titled 'Love face' by Vincent Fantauzzo Click for more photos

Finalists Archibald Prize 2013

People's Choice: Asher Keddie titled 'Love face' by Vincent Fantauzzo Photo: Suppleid

''The reality is many paintings here could be the winner,'' Lowy said. ''On another day, it might have been another painting.''

Barton's win is only the ninth by a woman in the 92-year history of the Archibald Prize.

Large canvases still dominate, but Lowy said more small paintings and no politicians had been hung in this year's Archibald Prize.

''But don't worry, as you can see there are still a few big heads around here,'' he said.

The 2008 Archibald winner, Barton said the portrait took her five months to paint and included four studio sittings with Weaving. The portrait features the actor clutching a sharp-clawed cat, with the leaves of a weeping lilly-pilly and root systems spiralling around him.

Despite sharing the same bug-eyed stare and high forehead as the portrait of herself with her two children that won the Archibald Prize five years ago, Barton said hugo was vastly different.

She said she initially had a ''far simpler'' painting in mind.

Barton would like to spend some of her prizemoney buying art and ''the rest will go on the mortgage''.

This year, there were 868 entries in the Archibald Prize (up from 839 last year), while the Wynne Prize received 773 entries and the Sulman Prize 626 entries.

The 11 trustees also judge the $35,000 Wynne Prize, which Imants Tillers won for the second time in a row with his Namatjira landscape.

The Sulman Prize is decided by one artist, Kate Beynon, who admitted it was ''stressful'' awarding the $30,000 prize to Victoria Reichelt's After (books).

The Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery will display all 2013 shortlisted Archibald works, including the winner, from June 8 to July 7.