Sarah Cecilia Harrison Essay Prize 2022

Naturalistic half-length portrait of a pale woman with her dark hair pinned up and wearing a high-necked black blouse with floral detailing at the throat
Sarah Cecilia Harrison (1863-1941), Self-Portrait. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.


New research and writing on the history of women in the visual arts in Ireland

To mark the launch of the Sarah Cecilia Harrison archive to the public, and in honour of Harrison’s legacy in the arts and as a social campaigner, the National Gallery of Ireland is establishing the Sarah Cecilia Harrison Essay Prize in art history. This award will recognise the best new research and writing on the history of women in the visual arts in Ireland.

The prize is open to all members of the public over 18 years of age, and the author of the winning essay will be awarded a €1000 prize at a reception held in the National Gallery of Ireland on 17 November 2022 (date subject to change).

This prize is generously supported by the descendants of the sister of Sarah Cecilia Harrison, Beatrice Chisholm.

How to enter

Read the competition rules

Before entering the competition, read the eligibility requirements and competition rules in full.

Your essay

  • Must be new research and writing on the history of women in the visual arts in Ireland
  • Must be in English only
  • No longer than 5,000 words in length, inclusive of cover pages, footnotes and endnotes

How to submit

Email your entry to [email protected] before midnight (IST) on Friday 9 September 2022.

You must include the following information in the body of your email:

  1. Your full name
  2. Your address
  3. Your telephone number
  4. Your date of birth
  5. A statement of permission for the Gallery to share your name and locality (if shortlisted) with press, media and other promotional purposes in connection with the competition, including on the Gallery’s social media platforms
  6. Social media handles (optional)

You must add the following documents as attachments to your email:

  1. Essay (attached as a Word or PDF)
  2. 500-word abstract (attached as Word or PDF)
  3. 200-500 word biography of the author (attached as Word or PDF)

Include your full name in the filename of each document.

Closing date

Complete entries must be emailed to [email protected] by midnight (IST) on Friday 9 September 2022.


The Hugh Lane/Sarah Cecilia Harrison archive collection

Sarah Cecilia Harrison (1863–1941) was an accomplished artist and curator, as well as an advocate of social reform and women’s rights in Ireland in the early twentieth century.

The Gallery acquired the Sarah Cecilia Harrison archive in 2019. Comprising over 400 letters from Sir Hugh Lane to the artist, the archive (dating from 1905–1915) provides insight into the world in which both Lane and Harrison lived and worked. This important collection will be made available to researchers in autumn 2022.

The Gallery's Library and Archive

The Gallery’s Library and Archive form important and valuable collections of research material held at the ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art (ESB CSIA), Yeats Archive and Gallery's institutional archives. These collections support the study and scholarly interpretation of visual art in Ireland.

The central role played by women artists in the development and dissemination of modernist art in Ireland is well documented. However, the broader story of women artists in Ireland and their achievements has often been forgotten, or viewed as ancillary to the standard canon.

Archives and primary research are essential to understanding and revealing these stories. Through the development of our collections, engagement and learning programmes, the Library and Archives department, including the ESB CSIA, has worked to promote Irish women artists as well as female-led collectives and industries.

More information