Thanks to a campaign by Accenture, the Royal Irish Academy unveiled the first portraits of female scientists ever to feature on its walls.

For the first time in its 230-year history, the Royal Irish Academy has portraits of female members on its walls.

Four individual portraits of the first women admitted to the RIA – mathematical physicist Sheila Tinney (1918–2010), art historian Françoise Henry (1934–1982), classical Irish literature researcher Eleanor Knott (1886–1975), and award-winning botanist Phyllis Clinch (1901–1984) – were painted by artist Vera Klute.

An additional painting by Blaise Smith features eight more present-day Irish scientists: Prof Aoife McLysaght, Prof Emma Teeling, Prof Lydia Lynch, Dr Maria McNamara, Prof Sarah McCormack, Dr Aoife Gowen, Prof Debra Laefer and Prof Catríona Lally.

The paintings were commissioned through the Accenture Women on Walls campaign with the help of Business to Arts, which issued an open call to artists in Ireland that attracted 55 applications.

“It’s the simplicity of the idea: putting a picture on the wall,” said Alastair Blair, Accenture Ireland MD. “It makes people look. It makes people see. It brings the story of the individual alive. So please goodness, we will see far more women on walls.”

Words by Elaine Burke

The Women on Walls portraits are available to view by the public at Academy House, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. They can also be viewed online, along with the full story of the campaign and background information on the academics, scientists and artists.