The Bennett Prize’s Call for Entries Is Now Open

The call for entries for the fourth iteration of The Bennett Prize, the largest prize award ever granted to women figurative realist painters, is now open. The grand prize is $50,000 and a solo exhibition, with an additional finalist receiving the $10,000 Schmidt Achievement in Figurative Realism Prize. A four-person jury will select 10 finalists whose work will be featured in an exhibition that will travel the United States. Women figurative realist painters are cordially invited to submit their work.

The Bennett Prize was founded by art collectors, curators, and philanthropists Steven Alan Bennett and Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt. It seeks to propel the careers of women figurative realist painters who have not yet realized full professional recognition, thereby aiming to empower new artists as well as those who have painted for many years.

The call for entries for the 2025 Bennett Prize is open from April 15 through October 4. After a month-and-a-half of deliberation, the jury will select 10 finalists. The winners will be announced May 15, 2025, at the opening reception for the finalists’ exhibition at the Muskegon Museum of Art in Michigan, which will host the exhibition through early September. The show will then travel the country for two years.

Sara Lee Hughes, “What Will The Neighbors Think?!” (2022), oil on canvas, 54 x 82 inches (diptych)

The Bennett Prize is awarded by a four-member jury. For the first time, this year’s jurors are all women and include world-renowned artists Angela Fraleigh and Margaret Bowland; Gloria Groom, Curator at the Art Institute of Chicago; and Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt, co-founder of The Bennett Prize. The jury will select 10 painters from among the entrants and from those 10, one winner and one runner up.

The prize is intended to help level the playing field for women artists. Works by women artists are collected and shown less frequently by galleries and museums and, when they are purchased, the prices paid are typically far less than those paid to artists who are men.

From the first two iterations of The Bennett Prize, the 18 finalists and two winners have seen up to a 45% increase in prices they command for their work, sold more than 100 paintings, and exhibited in 24 solo shows and 67 group shows. Fifty-five percent of finalists have gained gallery representation. Through The Bennett Prize, these 20 women artists have been featured in more than 50 published stories, 300 advertisements, and in 2,650 social media posts.

The prize is not open to hobbyists or students, artists whose work has been sold for $25,000 or more, or artists who have received an award, prize, or other recognition for their art in that amount or more.

For more information, visit

Haley Hasler Portrait of Artist with Fire Chief 1
Haley Hasler, “Portrait of the Artist with Fire Chief” (2023), oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches
Shiqing Deng Life 1
Shiqing Deng, “Life” (2021), oil on linen, 66 x 44 inches
Kyla Rafert Cockfight 1
Kyla Zoe Rafert, “Cockfight” (2021), walnut ink, gouache, and serigraphy on paper, 24 1/2 x 20 inches framed (image courtesy Eleanor Harris)

The Pittsburgh Foundation and the Muskegon Museum of Art are proud partners of The Bennett Prize®

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