Sarah Cecilia Harrison

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Sarah Cecilia Harrison's 1889 self-portrait is now in Dublin City Gallery

Sarah Cecilia Harrison (1863–1941) was an Irish artist and the first woman to serve on Dublin City Council.


Harrison, who went by the name Cecilia, was born to an affluent family in Holywood, County Down. She was the great grand-niece of the reformer and industrialist Henry Joy McCracken.[1] When she was ten her father died and the family relocated to London.[2] She studied under Alphonse Legros at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1878 to 1885. She travelled widely on the continent as part of her studies.[2]

In 1889 she moved to Dublin and established herself as one of Ireland's foremost portrait artists. She submitted 60 paintings to the Royal Hibernian Academy's annual exhibition and numerous other works to the Royal Academy in London during her career.[2] She was an honorary academician of the Royal Ulster Academy of Fine Arts.[2]

Harrison's brother was a supporter of Charles Stewart Parnell and a Member of Parliament for Tipperary. Harrison herself became the first female city councillor for Dublin Corporation in 1912.[2] She campaigned to have Poor relief extended to the able-bodied unemployed and worked for women's rights.[2] She was closely involved in Hugh Lane's efforts to establish a gallery of modern art in Dublin. Following Lane's death on the Lusitania in 1915, she claimed that they had been engaged to be married.[2] Her 1914 portrait of Lane is one of her best-known works.[2] Harrison never married.

Harrison's artistic style is precise and realistic. There are examples of her work in the collections of the National Gallery of Ireland, the Hugh Lane Gallery, the Office of Public Works, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Ulster Museum[2] and National Museums Northern Ireland.[3]


  1. ^ "Dictionary of New Ulster Biography". Ulster Biography. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Sarah Cecilia Harrison, Irish Portrait Artist". Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  3. ^ Painting(s) by or after Sarah C. Harrison at the Art UK site