LONDON, June 23, 2006 A painting of a blonde girl in a black dress, aptly titled Blonde Girl, Black Dress, emerged yesterday as the best out of 1,305 works on display at the Royal Academy's summer exhibition in London.
Chantal Joffe, 36, a native of St. Albans, north of London, was stunned to learn that she surpassed such art world heavyweights as Sir Anthony Caro to collect the Charles Wollaston award for "most distinguished work" at the show.
"Blonde Girl, Black Dress is an incredibly strong and striking painting," the judges said. "It held its own in the gallery in which it was shown. There was no debate about the winner, the decision was reached unanimously."
Blonde Girl, Black Dress was selected from a shortlist of five works for the prizewhose past winners have included David Hockneythat is worth $45,750 (£25,000, €36,000).
"I never expected to win against such an illustrious line up," Joffe said. "I am overwhelmed."
The Royal Academy summer exhibition, now in its 238th year, is the world's largest open contemporary art exhibition, with paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and architectural models from both famous and unknown artists.