The Melbourne-based artist’s portrait of cabaret icon Barry Humphries wins the $100,000 award.

Melbourne-based artist Louise Hearman has been awarded the nation’s most prestigious painting award, the $100,000 Archibald Prize. Her portrait of Barry Humphries, the cabaret legend and creator of one of Australia’s most internationally recognised characters, Dame Edna Everage, beat off competition from 50 other shortlisted finalists.

Hearman told the ABC that the portrait had taken several years to complete, as it was entirely painted from live sittings. “I had to keep waiting for Barry to come back from overseas to Australia, and I had to go up to his face, look into his eyes, and try to work out what colour they were,” she explained.

2016 has been a phenomenal year for female artists, with all the major prizes going to women. Almost half of this year’s shortlisted finalist were women, and one artist, Lucy Culliton, achieved the rare feat of being a finalist in all three of the main awards: the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes.

Esther Stewart’s Flatland Dreaming

The Sulman Prize, awarded for the best “subject” painting, was won by Esther Stewart for her work Flatland Dreaming. The work uses abstraction and minimalism as a meditation on Edwin Abbott’s 19th-century novel of the same title.

The Ken family’s Seven Sisters

The Wynne Prize was jointly awarded the five sisters – Tjungkara Ken, Yaritji Young, Freda Brady, Maringka Tunkin and Sandra Ken – from the Amata Aboriginal community in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands.

Betina Fauvel-Ogden’s George Calombaris, masterchef

The Packing Room Prize, selected by the packing room staff at the Art Gallery NSW, was awarded earlier this month to Betina Fauvel-Ogden’s portrait of Masterchef judge George Calombaris.