It has been described as a beautiful yet sensitive portrayal of a great Australian painter in the last month of her life.
Though there's a certain frailty and fragility about the image of Margaret Olley as she sat for John McRae in her Paddington studio shortly before she died, her eyes still show great strength.
McRae's image Portrait of Margaret Olley in her Paddington Studio captures Olley looking at the viewer, with a slight smile.
''She's inviting you in and wants to engage with the audience,'' said Louise Doyle, National Portrait Gallery director. ''She was a small but very strong individual who had an impact over a long period of time.''
The photograph won the People's Choice award for this year's National Photographic Portrait Prize.
About a quarter of the exhibition's 22,700 visitors voted for their favourite photograph. Most were lured by Olley seated in her painting chair in her colourful yet cluttered home.
It was the first time Olley had been captured in the portrait prize. And it could possibly be the last public representation of the renowned artist.
''John had been friends with Margaret for quite some time and had been taking photographs of her over a period of time,'' Ms Doyle said.
''He just asked her the question [if she would sit for him] and she agreed.''
The final 46 portraits in the exhibition were whittled down from 1500 entries from around Australia. Melbourne photographer Rod McNicol's Jack Charles 2011 won the $25,000 portrait prize.
Ms Doyle, also a portrait prize judge, said each judge had their top few photographs.
The judges viewed the 1500 entries as digital images. They didn't see the actual image until it was framed and hanging in the National Portrait Gallery. ''It's a matter of working through them until you actually get to the one which is the most compelling and you can't stop looking at it,'' Ms Doyle said.
''We were very much drawn to [the Olley portrait]. It had a sense of optimism even though there is a great sensitivity there.''
The images which ''spoke to the judges'' were those that had warmth and optimism.
The National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition of 46 finalists will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra until Sunday. It will tour NSW and South Australia this year and next.