It Took a Century: Women Artists and the RHA 

Abigail O'Brien, Perfection 1 & Perfection 2. © Abigail O’Brien.Credit

1 July - 22 October 2023   
Room 21 | Admission free

It took a century to elect the first woman artist.   
It took another century to elect the first woman President.   
It took a century to achieve equitable representation in the membership. 
This National Gallery of Ireland/Royal Hibernian Academy collaboration showcases women’s membership of the Royal Hibernian Academy from the election in 1923 of the first woman member, Sarah Purser, to the first woman President, Abigail O’Brien, in 2018. As part of the RHA bicentenary celebrations, the exhibition combines an historic survey of the past 100 years together with a presentation of work by current woman members of the Academy. 

While half of the artists represented in the exhibition are living, the other half span the decades from the 1920s. The exhibition comprises works in a variety of media, and involves an unprecedented use of Room 21, in which Irish art from the late 17th to early 19th century is usually displayed.

The constituent works are drawn almost exclusively from the collections of the National Gallery of Ireland and the Royal Hibernian Academy. The only exceptions to this are the small number of artists not represented in either collection. Examples of the work of this small group of artists are on loan from other public collections in Ireland or are new works.


An exhibition organised by the National Gallery of Ireland and The Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts 

Curators: Dara McElligott Curatorial Fellow and Dr Brendan Rooney, Head Curator (National Gallery of Ireland); Dr Patrick Murphy, Director and Kate McBride RHA Registrar Collection and Exhibitions (RHA).

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