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Videos / November 16, 2015

Meet the First RBC Canadian Painting Competition Winner

The 17th winner of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition will be announced later this week—in anticipation, we caught up with the first, Jennifer Walton.

Toronto-based painter Jennifer Walton won the Canadian Emerging Artist Prize competition in 1999, then sponsored by Connor Clark Private Trust in partnership with Canadian Art. The prize went on to became the RBC Canadian Painting Competition—one of the most prestigious in the Canadian artworld.

The Canadian Emerging Artist Prize competition, which focused on representational painting, was considerably smaller than today’s RBC Canadian Painting Competition. The winner received $7,500 and the runner up took home $2,500. Winning entries were featured in an issue of Canadian Art and entered into the Connor Clark Collection.

The 2015 competition, by contrast, will award $85,000 in prizes, including a cash prize of $25,000 to the winner, who is selected from a pool of 615 competitors that is narrowed down to five finalists. Two honourable mentions also receive $15,000.

Even in its earliest iterations, though, the prize launched careers. Here, Walton reflects on her unexpected win, and discusses the role of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition in promoting painting and Canada.