Here Are Some Of The Archibald Prize Finalists In 2019

A record number of entries have been unpacked and the finalists announced for this year's Archibald Prize.

Newcomer finalist and Perth artist Tessa MacKay took out the 2019 Packing Room Prize for her pensive portrait of actor David Wenham peering through the window of a cafe in Sydney's inner-west.

'Through the looking glass' was an instant winner for head packer Brett Cuthbertson.

"As soon as I saw it, I was like, 'that's the one I want -- thank God!'" he said on Thursday.

'Through the looking glass' oil on linen, by Tessa Mackay. Image: Supplied

The Archibald Prize is one of Australia's most prominent art prizes. The Packing Room Prize -- a cash prize of $1,500 --  is chosen by the Art Gallery of NSW staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries.

Cuthbertson had 51 percent of the vote.

"The thing that got me is if you look in the left-hand corner there's a beautiful vase and a sugar jar and a salt jar -- and I looked straight at that. The fact that David Wenham is in it is just a bonus," he said.

READ MORE: Guy Pearce Portrait Takes Out 2018 People's Archibald Prize

Mackay said she is "thrilled" by the news, while Wenham said he felt privileged to sit for her.

“Tess’s portraits are each carefully considered and not only display her supreme technical facility but also offer an insight into what fascinates or intrigues her about the subject," Wenham said.

"Aware of my fondness for sitting, people watching and general day dreaming, Tess had a very clear vision of what the look, feel and purpose of the portrait should be."

'Benjamin Law: happy sad' oil on canvas, by Keith Burt. Image: Supplied

This year, the Gallery received a record 919 entries for the Archibald Prize, with 51 finalists announced on Thursday.

Among the finalists are 11 self-portraits alongside portraits of public figures such as ABC personalities Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales, Benjamin Law and Dylan Alcott.

'Leigh' (detail) oil and acrylic on board, by Mirra Whale. Image: Supplied
'Dylan' acrylic and aerosol on canvas, by Kirpy. Image: Supplied

There is also notable representation of Indigenous subjects, by debut artist Thea Perkins and previous Archibald finalists Blak Douglas and Vincent Namatjira.

'Christian' acrylic on clay board, by Thea Anamara Perkins. Image: Supplied
'Art is our weapon – portrait of Tony Albert' acrylic on army surplus camouflage material, by Vincent Namatjira. Image: Supplied
'Mariam Veiszadeh' oil on canvas, by Angus McDonald. Image: Supplied
'White shells, black heart' synthetic polymer paint and shells, by Blak Douglas. Image: Supplied
'Waiting for Arden' (detail) oil on wood, by Natasha Bieniek. Image: Supplied

The $100,000 Archibald Prize will be announced a day before the finalists go on exhibition from May 11.

The exhibition kicks off at the National Gallery of NSW and will tour Australia from September.

Featured image: Supplied