The Paul Mellon Centre and Art UK are delighted to announce the winners of Write on Art 2023. Created to encourage an interest in art history among young people in the last four years of school, the award is jointly run by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (PMC) and Art UK.

In August this year's judges – Director of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Sarah Munro, and art historian, critic and author Ruth Millington – selected three winners from each category from over 200 submissions of extremely high quality. This year's applications have explored a range of poignant themes, including life and death, gender and sexuality, ethnicity and identity, youth and old age, and conflict and love.

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey 1833

Paul Delaroche (1797–1856)

The National Gallery, London

Judge Ruth Millington commented: 'I was so inspired by this year's writers! They showed immense talent, originality and creativity in their responses to a diverse range of artworks from Pre-Raphaelite paintings to contemporary self-portraits. Judging the competition was a real joy and the worthy winners proved that the future of art writing is in great hands.'

Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando

Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando 1879

Edgar Degas (1834–1917)

The National Gallery, London

On Saturday 9th September, the shortlisted writers, judges, and staff from the PMC and Art UK gathered at The Building Centre in London for a prizegiving ceremony. The students winning first place in each category won £500, the second-place students won £200, and the third-place students won £100 each.

The winners of Write on Art 2023

The winners of Write on Art 2023

All six essays will be posted on the PMC and Art UK's websites.

Andy Ellis, Chief Executive of Art UK, said: 'huge congratulations go to all the 241 entrants to the Write on Art prize this year. This was the sixth year we have run the competition in partnership with the Paul Mellon Centre and, as always, the standard of writing and insights offered by our essayists into artworks in the national collection was a delight to behold. The biggest challenge faced was choosing between the essays submitted and so we are extremely grateful to our judges for taking on this unenviable task.'

The Pomps of the Subsoil

The Pomps of the Subsoil 1947

Leonora Carrington (1917–2011)

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

Sarah Turner, Director of the Paul Mellon Centre, reflected: 'Each year, through Write on Art, I am just blown away by the incredible pool of talent there is in next generation of cultural thinkers in the UK. The creativity and quality of writing generated by the competition is really exciting to read. The Paul Mellon Centre is proud to collaborate with Art UK to run this annual prize which gives a platform to the voices of young people and supports their engagement with our national art collections. Write on Art demonstrates the cultural value of thinking about art and its histories.'

Submissions for the 2024 prize – the seventh year of the competition – will open in January 2024.

The winners of this year's competition are:

Year 10/11 Category

First place: Lulu Frisson on Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando by Edgar Degas

Second place: Matilda Jones on The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche

Third place: Katie Joslin-Allen on The Pomps of the Subsoil by Leonora Carrington

Year 12/13 Category

First place: Tony Choy on Circe by John William Waterhouse

Second place: Nilla Feron Clark on Terpsichore by Maud Sulter

Third place: Ophelia Lanfranchi on Gluck by Gluck

Katie Leonard, Head of Learning at Art UK