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WEP's 3 Archibald Prize winning portraits.

Mr Ray Walker - 1958 Rabbi Dr Israel Porush - 1961 Dr Lloyd Rees - 1968

In December 1958, Wep won his first Archibald prize after nine previous attempts.  In the thirty-seven years since its inception in 1921, fourteen artists had previously been awarded this prestigious prize. Of these, six had won it more than once; William Dargie (8), W.B. McInnes (7), John Longstaff (5), Ivor Hele (5), Max Meldrum (2) and William Dobell (2). IThe prior eight years had been dominated by Dargie with three wins and Hele with five wins.  The Archibald had become tiring given the dominance of a relative few artists.

Upon news of Wep's first win, Gladys Archibald, niece of J.F. Archibald, whose legacy provided for the annual prize, wrote the following letter to Wep expressing her pleasure in the news of his success.

18 Phillips St

Neutral Bay

17 Dec 1958

My dear Mr Pidgeon,

Just to congratulate you on winning this year's Archibald Prize, and to say how pleased I am the monopoly has at last been broken.  I am quite sure it was never intended by my Uncle, as a steady income for an established artist, in he helped so many people during his lifetime.

I am also very glad it has passed off so peacefully even if the critics are not pleased, they seldom are anyway. I was so tired of those wordy brawls of the past, and at times wished it had never been given.

Also the journalistic connection, would I am quite sure have pleased my Uncle greatly.

Again congratulations and best wishes

from Yours sincerely,

Gladys Archibald

Wep ultimately won the prestigious prize three times and only four artists have won it more; William Dargie (8), W.B. McInnes (7), John Longstaff (5) and Ivor Hele (5), all prior to Wep's first win. Three other artists share the trifecta of wins with Wep; Sir William Dobell, Clifton Pugh and Eric Smith.


Last Updated - 27 August, 2009