The Dobell Prize for drawing, held by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, was the highest prize for drawing in Australia. The prize had previously been held in conjunction with the Archibald Prize, Sulman Prize, Wynne Prize, around the early part of the year, but was moved in 2003 to being held around August or September.
The prize was initiated by the Trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation. In 2003, the prize money was $20,000. This was increased to $25,000 in 2009. The Dobell Prize was an acquisitive award, with the gallery keeping past winners in the permanent collection. There were 685 entrants in the first year of the prize, in 1993, of which only 34 were exhibited, and there were similar numbers in following years.
At the presentation of the 2012 Dobell Drawing Prize it was announced the prize would close as an open entry drawing prize, to be replaced by a curated biennial drawing show/award to be named the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial
List of winners
- 1993 - Kevin Connor - Pyrmont and the city
- 1994 - Thomas Spence - The roofs of Oxford Street (Taylor Square)
- 1995 - Jan Senbergs - Kitchen at Smacka's
- 1996 - Pam Hallandal - Self portrait
- 1997 - Peter Bonner - Interior
- 1998 - Godwin Bradbeer - Man of paper VII
- 1999 - David Fairbairn (artist) - Portrait of Tao Triebels
- 2000 - Nick Mourtzakis - Untitled study
- 2001 - Nicholas Harding - Eddy Avenue (3)
- 2002 - Mary Tonkin - Rocky outcrop, Werribee Gorge
- 2003 - Aida Tomescu - "Negru III and Negru IV" (A candle in a dark room)
- 2004 - Garry Shead - Colloquy with John Keats (diptych)
- 2005 - Kevin Connor - Le Grand Palais, Clémenceau, de Gaulle and me
- 2006 - Nick Mourtzakis - nature. insects plants flowers. shell fish corals. the microscopic creatures. dreams
- 2007 - Ann Pollak - Mullet Creek
- 2008 - Virginia Grayson - No Conclusions Drawn + ABC coverage
- 2009 - Pam Hallandal - Tsunami
- 2010 - Suzanne Archer - Derangement
- 2011 - Anne Judell - Breath
- 2012 - Gareth Sansom - Made in Wadeye
Additional works acquired
The Dobell Trustees occasionally buy some of the works which have not won the main prize but have been exhibited, or they acquire them for other reasons, such as:
- Colin Lanceley's The garden between the mountains and the sea 1992 (bought)
- Daniel Moynihan's Tasmanian tiger in Paris, Canal St. Martin 1992 (bought)
- Dog by Rachel Ellis in 1992, which was admired by Arthur Boyd was bought by finalist Peter Kingston and donated to the gallery.
- Margaret Woodward's In the penumbra of perfumes and songs, 1993, a gift of Dr Roderick Bain.
- A gouache, Man on the beach, by Joe Furlonger, 1993
- David Brian Wilson's The woman 1996 (bought)
- Judy Cassab donated two of her drawings, which were exhibited as finalists in 1997 Transparent landscape, Rainbow Valley and 2002 Temple, Udaipur. Another entry of hers, Incredible lightness, Rainbow Vallery, 1998, was purchased in 1999.
- In 2000, the Art Gallery Society supported the purchase of drawings Visibility/Invisibility by Jennifer Keeler-Milne and Urban landscape II by Sallie Moffat. Anne Judell's Mute 1999 was gifted to the gallery by an anonymous donor.
- Margaret Olley, the judge in 2001, purchased two drawings. One by Margaret Woodward, Francisco Lezcano riding the unicycle, and one by Amanda Robins, Linen dress, and gave them to the gallery.
- AGNSW: The 2005 Dobell Prize for Drawing
- Artnews 2004 prize
- SMH - Dobell goes to artist with sketchy picture of his talent
- Monash lecturer wins prestigious art prize