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.

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

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.

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 has established the Sarah Cecilia Harrison Essay Prize in art history, recognising the best new research and writing on the history of women in the visual arts in Ireland.

Inaugural winner

The winner of the inaugural Sarah Cecilia Harrison Essay Prize is Chiara Harrison Lambe, a forthcoming PhD candidate in the department of Art and Visual History at Humboldt University in Berlin. Her essay, Stella Steyn (1907-1987): A Name to Remember, explores why the Irish-Jewish painter and printmaker, who was one of the earliest illustrators of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and the only Irish artist known to have studied at the Bauhaus School in Germany, rarely appears in accounts of significant 20th-century Irish artists. This essay is intended as the first step towards increased engagement with Steyn’s versatile art practice. You can read the award-winning essay here

 

Two runner-up essays were also acknowledged; by Niamh Flood and Mary Morrissy.

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

Photograph of a group of eight people in a grand room
Back Row, L-R: Ciara O’Brien, Assistant Archivist for the ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art, National Gallery of Ireland; Colin Chisholm; Laura Swire; Andrea Lydon, Head of Library and Archives, National Gallery of Ireland; and Donal Maguire, Curator of the ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art, National Gallery of Ireland.
Front Row, L-R: Leah Benson, Archivist, National Gallery of Ireland; Chiara Harrison Lambe, winner of the inaugural Sarah Cecilia Harrison Essay Prize, and Anne Chisholm, benefactor.
Photo © Maxwell Photography, Mark Maxwell.
Credit

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. You can read more about this important collection here, and you can explore it online here

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.

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